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Doctor Venture
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Questions about 2 builds

Wed Jul 19, 2017 11:12 pm

Not sure if I should've broken this up into 2 posts, so I apologize if I should, and failed to do so.

I'm currently contemplating two new builds. One will happen fairly soon, but I'm not sure exactly when I'll do the second.


The first build is going to be a threadripper based workstation. I need a machine that can run quite a lot of VMs at the same time. Some will be regular VMware VMs (I'm leaning towards using ESXi for this machine), while others will be Qemu/KVM based. One of the main reasons I need a machine with at least 16c/32t and a minimum of 128GB DDR4 RAM, is because some of the VMs I need to run have heftier system requirements than my poor old Sandy Bride can handle. For instance, even the bare minimum lab configuration of vMX 17.2R1 needs 6GB RAM, and 4 hardware threads, IOS XRv 9000 needs 16GB RAM and 4 h/w threads, NX-OSv 9K needs 8GB RAM and 2 h/w threads, and vQFX-10K needs 4 h/w threads and 4GB RAM (it does better with more). All of those are per-instance, so if I want to use multiple instances of it, the resource usage climbs up quickly. And none of that takes into account the multiple VMs that need less requirements, or server VMs I want to test out, like multiple Openstack sets, Automation servers, Monitoring VMs, etc...

The first question I have about this build, are should I go for two high-capacity SATA 3 HDDs for bulk storage, and a decent 1TB SSD (like the 840 EVO) as the "OS" drive ( I know... ESXi doesn't need an OS), or just use some nice HDDs? The other question I have, is if anyone can recommend a good case (and case fan spitter/controller) that has a TON of 120mm fan mounts? I've heard that Threadripper will require an closed loop cooling system, and I'll need to mount the radiator, and a bunch of 120mm Noctua case fans for intake and exhaust. I did some quick searches for fulll sized towers, and they don't always have a lot mounting points for case fans. I'll definitely need that fan header (or whatever it's called), since motherboards tend to be miserly with fan attachments on the board.

Now, as far as the build I'm thinking about, but not ready to pull the trigger on yet, will be me Intel-based gaming rig, which will also be used for web surfing, transcoding videos, etc... After reading about the kerfuffle about the VRMs on the x299 getting too hot, and the issues with some of the CPUs having a 71 Kelvin difference between the die, and the top of the IHS, I'm not sure if I want to get any of those. I looked at Silicon Lottery, and they're basically all sold out at the moment. Here are some of the questions I have about this build, along with a few things I know i want:

1) I'd prefer 64GB RAM, but from looking at the x270 motherboards, it looks like you'd have to overclock to get above DDR4 2400. Is that going to be an issue, since I don't intend on overclocking this system.
2) I've currently got an old i7-2600K Sandy Bridge on a z79 motherboard, with the max of 32GB DDR3 RAM. Would settling for a Kaby Lake give me enough of a boost to justify buying it, a z270 motherboard, as well as 64GB of RAM, or should I wait?
3) I'm kinda interested in maybe getting a 32GB Optane gumstick, to use as a fast cache. Is it better to use that with a +1TB SSD (like an 840 or 850 EVO), or would it work just as well with a SATA 3 HDD? I was eyeballing the 12Gbps SAS drive, but I'd need to shell out an extra $300 for a PCI-E controller board, since none of the motherboards I saw had SAS as a listed feature
4) Given the heat issues with the newest SkyLake X chips, and the aforementioned VRMs on the x299 boards, would it be better if I just waited until Coffee Lake or Cannon Lake debut?
5) I do need quite a few high capacity HDDs right now. Does anyone have experiences they're willing to share about the 6TB WD Black "Performance" HDDs, the HGST helium filled enterprise HDDs, or even those "hybrid" Seagate Barracudas? I was thinking about getting 4 or more 6TB HDDs, and then save up more money to splurge on one of those Synology 1517+ NAS boxes, one or two of the 517 expansion boxes, and then fill them to capacity with a bunch of high capacity WD Red "NAS" HDDs. Anyone have experiences they're willing to share about the Synology boxes or the WD Red HDDs, as well?
6) If I *can* end up getting one of the better crop of Intel's latest CPUs from Silicon Lottery, and get lucky with a motherboard that's been tweaked to help kill the VRM heat, what kind of cooling solution would I be looking at?

Sorry if this was all rambly! I was just thinking and typing as I went, so I likely wasn't 100% clear on my questions. I can rephrase the, tomorrow, since I need to head to bed. Gotta be up in 4-1/2 hours! O_o
 
synthtel2
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Re: Questions about 2 builds

Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:49 am

1) DDR4-2400 should be fine for most stuff, even on Z270. The big exception that comes to mind is if you've got a 144Hz monitor and want your games to run at speeds resembling that. If you don't want to overclock, don't worry about it.

2) Kaby will be a big boost (the biggest possible) for gaming, but maybe not such an impressive change for other workloads. It sounds like the gaming machine has some pretty heavy non-gaming requirements if 64GB RAM is on the table. What all tasks would more threads help you with, and how do you prioritize them relative to gaming and power efficiency?

3) If you're thinking tons of RAM already, maybe just RAMdisk? I'm having a bit of trouble envisioning a workload where 64GB RAM + 32GB Optane makes sense. In its Intel-spec cache mode, it won't be doing much of anything useful if placed in front of a decent SSD, and it sounds like you've got plenty of budget for a decent SSD.

4) I personally expect Coffee Lake won't have Skylake-X's various changes and will as a result have much more reasonable power consumption. If 6C12T Kaby sounds like the ticket, it may be worth waiting for Coffee Lake. If you can use SKL-X features like quad-channel memory or AVX-512, just balance those against its power use.

5) (I know nothing useful about this.)

6) Silicon Lottery delids, right? A delidded and stock-clocked Skylake-X shouldn't require anything too fancy to cool. I'd be looking at 120mm Noctua stuff, myself (140mm if you're not worried about mobo flex or tie it to the top of the case or something).

I saw your other thread earlier, so my comments on the Threadripper build are all over there. Can't help with the parts I didn't already comment on.
 
DPete27
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Re: Questions about 2 builds

Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:59 am

5) I ran my HTPC on just my Seagate 4TB SSHD for a while. TBH, it didn't feel any snappier than a traditional hdd. It seems they've stopped making new models also. IIRC, the 4TB SSHD was the last iteration and I bought mine in November 2014. That said, I don't think its a bad hdd, and I haven't had any problems with it.
Main: i5-3570K, ASRock Z77 Pro4-M, MSI RX480 8G, 500GB Crucial BX100, 2 TB Samsung EcoGreen F4, 16GB 1600MHz G.Skill @1.25V, EVGA 550-G2, Silverstone PS07B
HTPC: A8-5600K, MSI FM2-A75IA-E53, 4TB Seagate SSHD, 8GB 1866MHz G.Skill, Crosley D-25 Case Mod
 
Doctor Venture
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Re: Questions about 2 builds

Tue Jul 25, 2017 1:54 pm

synthtel2 wrote:
1) DDR4-2400 should be fine for most stuff, even on Z270. The big exception that comes to mind is if you've got a 144Hz monitor and want your games to run at speeds resembling that. If you don't want to overclock, don't worry about it.


2) Kaby will be a big boost (the biggest possible) for gaming, but maybe not such an impressive change for other workloads. It sounds like the gaming machine has some pretty heavy non-gaming requirements if 64GB RAM is on the table. What all tasks would more threads help you with, and how do you prioritize them relative to gaming and power efficiency?


The only non-gaming things I'll run on this particular machine will be chrome and firefox, Handbrake, and sometimes Workstation Pro. I'm saving the heavy virtualization stuff for the workstation build. The VMs I'd make on this rig would just be stuff like learning Arch Linux, or building Linux from Scratch, etc...

My Sandy Bridge build has served me well over the years, so I'm just thinking about getting something that'll last me another 5 years, like my current build. I was considering that 32GB Optane gumstick as a fast cache, but I might just end up getting another Samsung Pro SSD (the SATA variety, not the M.2). Other than splurging on cooling, and a really nice PSU with that Platinum or Gold rating, the most expensive part will be whichever GPU is the new hotness at build time.

3) If you're thinking tons of RAM already, maybe just RAMdisk? I'm having a bit of trouble envisioning a workload where 64GB RAM + 32GB Optane makes sense. In its Intel-spec cache mode, it won't be doing much of anything useful if placed in front of a decent SSD, and it sounds like you've got plenty of budget for a decent SSD.


I had some weirdness with RAMdisk, but that could've either been just me, or the 32GB DDR3 RAM I was saddled with. Plus I thought "Why not just go for 64GB? That's the max the motherboards support anyway..."

4) I personally expect Coffee Lake won't have Skylake-X's various changes and will as a result have much more reasonable power consumption. If 6C12T Kaby sounds like the ticket, it may be worth waiting for Coffee Lake. If you can use SKL-X features like quad-channel memory or AVX-512, just balance those against its power use.


From looking at the rumored table of chips posted today or yesterday, the i7-7700K sounds more appealing. And to the best of my knowledge, nothing I run needs AVX-512.

EDIT: Dunno why your part about Silicon Lottery got nuked. Weird...

I was just thinking about Silicon Lottery, since I've seen lots of complaints about Intel using thermal paste instead of indium/tin solder. I'd be too wary of delidding my CPU myself (hell, I'm paranoid about bending pins on that Threadripper CPU. O_o), so I'd rather pay someone that knows what they're doing. If it ends up being better to just use a really good CLC, and a case where I can install a ton of noctua fans (even on the CLC radiator), I might just go that route, instead. I had briefly considered one of the higher end SkyLake-X parts, but not for those prices.

I saw your other thread earlier, so my comments on the Threadripper build are all over there. Can't help with the parts I didn't already comment on.[/quote][/quote][/quote]
 
synthtel2
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Re: Questions about 2 builds

Tue Jul 25, 2017 6:26 pm

A 7700K sounds right then. Getting more future-proof than that would be all about more cores, in which case 6C Coffee Lake would be nice. That's probably a net gaming gain by the time 9th gen consoles roll around, but games designed with 9th gen consoles as minspec may be pretty brutal on 2017 CPUs in general, and the higher clocks of a 7700K are probably more useful in the meantime.

It still sounds to me like 32GB RAM would do what you want, but virtualization makes 64GB for future-proofing a fair enough point. RAM prices at the moment make that a particularly expensive bit of future-proofing though. What about just keeping two slots free to double it later?

I'll endorse the extra SSD plan over the Optane one.
 
DPete27
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Re: Questions about 2 builds

Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:47 am

I don't understand why consoles always seem to get drug into conversations about future-proofing.
Main: i5-3570K, ASRock Z77 Pro4-M, MSI RX480 8G, 500GB Crucial BX100, 2 TB Samsung EcoGreen F4, 16GB 1600MHz G.Skill @1.25V, EVGA 550-G2, Silverstone PS07B
HTPC: A8-5600K, MSI FM2-A75IA-E53, 4TB Seagate SSHD, 8GB 1866MHz G.Skill, Crosley D-25 Case Mod
 
DragonDaddyBear
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Re: Questions about 2 builds

Wed Jul 26, 2017 9:59 am

Just throwing this out there, you could save a lot of money on your build for your ESXi server by going to sleezbay and getting used server hardware. I'd also be concerned with ESXi's support for ThreadRipper out of the gate. If you have a corner somewhere you can thrown an old server and console into it you may be better off.

You can also over prevision cores with virtualization. That's one of the appeals. A lot of system spend most time idling. So you don't need to get the same number of cores in your server as you plan to use, unless one of them is going to be eating a lot of time. I have most of my resources assigned just to Plex/FreeNas and my router. Everything else shares without issues.
 
synthtel2
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Re: Questions about 2 builds

Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:16 pm

DPete27 wrote:
I don't understand why consoles always seem to get drug into conversations about future-proofing.

Because they're the foremost spec game devs are targetting. Not only does that put limits on how heavy games can be, but it gives a few hints about what hardware games may be set up to run best on.

Consider that devs won't want to make anything lower than 720p30 on XB1/PS4, and let's say you're trying to get a GPU that will reliably handle games from this console gen at 1080p60. That's about 4x the pixel rate. Cancel a fudge factor down for work that doesn't scale per-pixel against a fudge factor up for raised settings on PC, find a card ~4x as powerful as an XB1's GPU, and you've got Hawaii / Polaris 10 / GM204 / GP106. It's no coincidence that that's the recommended GPU spec for a lot of games at the moment. Recommended GPU specs may still drift further upward this gen if console and PC settings drift further apart, but it's a fair bet that any of those cards will be able to handle a stable 1080p60 at some decent settings on any game released for 8th gen consoles (barring blatant breakage like with Arkham Knight).

The same applies for CPUs, except that there's often a lot more work that isn't per-frame, and resolution can (usually) be safely left out of the equation. We want 2-3x more powerful CPUs than the consoles have, because on consoles a lot of games only run at 30 fps. Getting a substantially more powerful CPU than is in the 8th gen consoles isn't tough, but if 9th gen consoles use full-size CPU cores, that may make things much more difficult.

Do you think modern games would be as multithreaded as they are if current-gen consoles didn't use eight weak cores? I don't. Do you think AMD GPUs would get as much optimization from devs as they do if consoles didn't use GCN? I don't.

Like it or not, consoles affect a great deal about PC gaming tech.
 
CScottG
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Re: Questions about 2 builds

Wed Jul 26, 2017 10:36 pm

Doctor Venture wrote:
(I'm leaning towards using ESXi for this machine), while others will be Qemu/KVM based.



Hold-off the build until VMware says it supports the hardware.. or try your luck with an updated Linux kernel (w/ Qemu/KVM).

(..my guess is that your best bet would be once UnRAID has given it a "thumbs-up" and use that instead of ESXi. UnRAID has up to 2 cache drives for very fast SSD's ..like the M.2 variety, up to two drives for parity positions, and more drives for data - with the total number depending on price. Once the data is cached: it should be *very* fast. With UnRAID the OS itself loads from a cheap USB drive and the speed really doesn't matter.)
 
SkyWarrior
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Re: Questions about 2 builds

Thu Jul 27, 2017 2:06 am

Just to give you an idea about Skylake-X

I am a bioinformatician working on whole exome analysis using GATK pipeline. I use plenty of cores and threads for quick results and just recently I upgraded to an i9-7900X

System specs are
i9 7900X
Asus Prime X299 Deluxe
Asus GeForce GTX 1050
128GB GSkill DDR4 3200
500gb Samsung 960 EVO
8TB Seagate ironwolf

and other stuff.

This system works 24/7 with no heating issues and noise. Cooling is left to Corsair H115i and I am using a beefy Aerocool Full Tower case.

If you are concerned about threads and performance and VMs I guess Skylake-X could be your ticket too.

I could not be happier than this build. (GATK pipeline switched to AVX Intel binaries all the way. Hell Yess!!!! I am seeing plenty of speedups here and there especially under full load with 4 exomes simultaneously.)
Rare is common where I work...
 
Chrispy_
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Re: Questions about 2 builds

Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:50 am

Doctor Venture wrote:
The first question I have about this build, are should I go for two high-capacity SATA 3 HDDs for bulk storage, and a decent 1TB SSD (like the 840 EVO) as the "OS" drive ( I know... ESXi doesn't need an OS), or just use some nice HDDs?

ESXi works well if you put the datastores for VM OS drives on fast storage. I run a 500GB M.2 NVMe stick in a few servers and with multiple VM's all using the drive the VM's are notably faster off something like an NVMe EVO 960 than they are off a budget SATA SSD. ESXi itself just boots into RAM off SD or USB flash.

Also, for your mechanical bulk storage, don't RAID them; RAIDed datastore performance is getting really weird as of ESXI 5.0 - better to just have snapshots or regular backups of the datastores to another system than use RAID1. Also, there are some quirks if you go over 16TB of raw device mapping, so don't create large arrays if RAID0 them anyway.

Doctor Venture wrote:
The other question I have, is if anyone can recommend a good case (and case fan spitter/controller) that has a TON of 120mm fan mounts?

NZXT H440, comes with a PWM fan hub. Its what I use and it has 3x120mm filtered intakes, 3x120mm top exhaust and 1x140mm rear exhaust. I drive all 7 fans off one motherboard header using the board's PWM fan speed control, works well.

Just note that the H440 is more of a "quiet" case than an overclocker's airflow case, so the intakes and exhaust are baffled and soundproofed, which restricts airflow somewhat.

Doctor Venture wrote:
1) I'd prefer 64GB RAM, but from looking at the x270 motherboards, it looks like you'd have to overclock to get above DDR4 2400. Is that going to be an issue, since I don't intend on overclocking this system.
2) I've currently got an old i7-2600K Sandy Bridge on a z79 motherboard, with the max of 32GB DDR3 RAM. Would settling for a Kaby Lake give me enough of a boost to justify buying it, a z270 motherboard, as well as 64GB of RAM, or should I wait?
3) I'm kinda interested in maybe getting a 32GB Optane gumstick, to use as a fast cache. Is it better to use that with a +1TB SSD (like an 840 or 850 EVO), or would it work just as well with a SATA 3 HDD? I was eyeballing the 12Gbps SAS drive, but I'd need to shell out an extra $300 for a PCI-E controller board, since none of the motherboards I saw had SAS as a listed feature
4) Given the heat issues with the newest SkyLake X chips, and the aforementioned VRMs on the x299 boards, would it be better if I just waited until Coffee Lake or Cannon Lake debut?
5) I do need quite a few high capacity HDDs right now. Does anyone have experiences they're willing to share about the 6TB WD Black "Performance" HDDs, the HGST helium filled enterprise HDDs, or even those "hybrid" Seagate Barracudas? I was thinking about getting 4 or more 6TB HDDs, and then save up more money to splurge on one of those Synology 1517+ NAS boxes, one or two of the 517 expansion boxes, and then fill them to capacity with a bunch of high capacity WD Red "NAS" HDDs. Anyone have experiences they're willing to share about the Synology boxes or the WD Red HDDs, as well?
6) If I *can* end up getting one of the better crop of Intel's latest CPUs from Silicon Lottery, and get lucky with a motherboard that's been tweaked to help kill the VRM heat, what kind of cooling solution would I be looking at?


  1. Don't use the X299 platform at all for gaming - stick with S1153 Kaby Lake, specifically a de-lidded 7700K at some reasonable overclock. Games don't use that many threads, but they absolutely want fast RAM and high clockspeed. The easiest way to get this is with an overclocked Kaby Lake quad core and its simpler dual-channel memory configuration.
  2. Yes. Not necessarily for the raw CPU performance, but for the faster DDR4 support and added bonus of NVMe, USB-C 3.1, M.2 slots etc. Your best gaming build will probably use 32GB of PC4-3200 in a single pair of 16GB modules, one module per channel.
  3. Skip Optane, it's practically redundant if you're already running the important stuff off fast NVMe storage already. Also, SAS is a mechanical disk server interface similar to AHCI SATA, You don't want and won't find them on consumer boards. SATA is cheaper and plenty for mechanical storage, NVMe over PCIe is the superior (and easy to find) option for modern high-end SSDs.
  4. There's always something new around the corner; New architecture to improve gaming performance over a 7700K is a long way off still, so I don't think you'll gain anything by waiting.
  5. 6TB WD Blacks are just about the finest consumer drives you can buy for internal mass storage. I don't use internal mass storage anymore, but I buy them for other people's builds without hesitation. I use WD Reds in a homebrew NAS, mainly for the low power consumption, multi-drive array-tolerant firmware, and quiet, low-vibration 5400RPM spin speed. They seem reliable but they are not particularly quick (so ideal for mass storage of media).
  6. Cooling? Any 240mm or larger AIO will be fine, TBH. Overclocking will be the only reason you need any serious cooling, and overclocking has a "sweet spot" and then diminishing returns where you pay vastly more in power consumption, heat and noise, for only minimal further gains. Intel's current silicon seems to reach 4.8GHz or so very easily with minimal extra voltage and minimal extra cooling requirements. Beyond that, YMMV but north of 5GHz is going to depend on how lucky you were with your sample and how much heat, noise, cooling expense you're willing to tolerate. As a gaming box, I'd focus on achieving a SENSIBLE overclock (Aim for 4.6-4.8GHz) and spend the effort on getting good RAM to run at 3200+ speeds with tight timings. That'll give you a far more significant benefit for gaming than an extra 200-300MHz.
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GalantisShape
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Re: Questions about 2 builds

Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:05 pm

Wow this stuff goes beyond my processor-with-graphic card-with-RAM ****. I'll just keep looking at my humble set...

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