1/2 price Boxx Workstation: Custom built equivalent

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Old 09 September 2012   #1
1/2 price Boxx Workstation: Custom built equivalent

Hi everyone,

I'm a Mac user and as most of you know, the updates and refreshes we kept expecting over the last few years never came and it just doesn't feel like a good investment in the long run to go Mac for CG work. Having a budget of 10k, I had made my mind on buying a Boxx.

However, after spending hours of reading this forum and exploring the different custom built workstation approaches that many of you have taken, I decided to try and price my own, just to see if the cost difference would be significant. After all, I may have decent budget, but I would rather buy twice the power for the same price right?

So here are the components I have picked from newegg:
(see the attched image for full specs)

- ASUS Z9PE-D8 MOTHERBOARD - $579
- 2x INTEL XEON E5-2670 2.6GHZ (3.3GHZ TURBO BOOST) 8 CORE - $3,079
- Nvidia QUADRO 4000 - $749
- CORSAIRE VENGEANCE 64GB (8X8GB) RAM - $374
- SAMSUNG 830 SERIES 256BG SSD - $199
- CORSAIR H100 LIQUID CPU COOLER - $114
- MK II 950W POWER SUPPLY - $149
- ANTEC NINE HUNDRED CASE - $99
- SAMSUNG 22X DVD - $16
- WINDOWS 7 PRO 64-BIT - $139

The total is around $5,500

I configured a box with essentially the same specs and the total is over $10,000.
(see attached image for specs)

I'm confident I can built this PC on my own but I have never done this before. Is there anything that doesn't make sense in my configuration? Things like the Case, Cooling and power supply are a little obscure to me. I would greatly appreciate any input. I don't particular like the case I picked, but it had great reviews and decently priced.

In terms of graphics, I'm a Maya user, so I concluded that the Quadro 4000 is the best bang for the buck. I also use other apps that may be better with a Fire Pro. I'm even considering buying one of each, but that would be for another thread. I'm open to any suggestion.

Am I being realistic by comparing this configuration with the Boxx equivalent?
It really seems like I could buy 2 workstations for the price of one.
Or rather save the money and configure and render node.

Thank you!
Attached Images
File Type: gif newegg_5k.gif (84.8 KB, 11 views)
File Type: gif boxx.gif (21.0 KB, 8 views)
 
Old 09 September 2012   #2
the case you have picked is not compatible with the SSI EEB form factor of the mainboard.
 
Old 09 September 2012   #3
I'd probably look at a Supermicro board for that and would go with an AX1200 PSU for some additional headroom in the future in case.
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Old 09 September 2012   #4
I don't think that cooler will cool 2 processors.

cheers
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Old 09 September 2012   #5
Thanks guys.

I knew I needed help for the case, power supply and cooling, but I didn't know I was this far off! I revisited my configurations with the following:

Motherboard:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...N82E16813182343
Thanks for the suggestion dmeyer.
With the savings vs going with the Asus board (savings of $218), I would probably upgrade my processor to a Xeon E5-2690. There's even a $60 off on new egg for that combo.
The Supermicro board also supports up to 256gb of ram vs only 64gb for the asus.
However, it is limited to DDR3 1600 type only... that could be an issue for future ram upgrades.

Case:
Thanks for pointing this out tswalk. I can't find a lot of compatible cases.

Found these 2 cases linked below on newegg, but they are rather oversized for my needs and a little pricy. Also, would the included fans be sufficient to cool down the dual CPU and Quadro 4000?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...E16811119252gfg
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...N82E16811163217

There is this one as well:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...N82E16811163185

I'm reading all the specs, but I would love to hear what others have used for dual xeon/SSI EEB cases.

Power supply:
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Produc...N82E16817139014
Great suggestion once again dmeyer. For the cost difference, it's definitely worth it.

Cooling:
I guess this will depend on the case I pick.
What's a good option for this type of workstation? Liquid cooling? Using built-in case fans? Add more fans?

One thing I haven't investigated is noise. Liquid cooling is probably more quiet?
Will be using SSD only, so it should help a little bit.
 
Old 09 September 2012   #6
i'm looking around... seems that the SSI-EEB standard is similar to E-ATX.

i do not think you'll find anything smaller than a full-size tower it.

i sent an email to Fractal Designs about this case as it supports E-ATX but doesn't specifically state SSI-EEB.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...N82E16811352017

i'm a minimalist on design, but will let you know how they respond.

also, just as a reference i found this which may help:

http://www.silverstonetek.com/techt...ea&tid=wh11_008
 
Old 09 September 2012   #7
That particular Supermicro board does not have any PCI-E x16?
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Old 09 September 2012   #8
Originally Posted by tswalk: i'm looking around... seems that the SSI-EEB standard is similar to E-ATX.

i do not think you'll find anything smaller than a full-size tower it.

i sent an email to Fractal Designs about this case as it supports E-ATX but doesn't specifically state SSI-EEB.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...N82E16811352017

i'm a minimalist on design, but will let you know how they respond.

also, just as a reference i found this which may help:

http://www.silverstonetek.com/techt...ea&tid=wh11_008



SSI-EEB will fit in an e-ATX case but some of the mount holes won't line up. You can easily remove the unneeded mounts and drill your own if you're handy with a drill and tap. I did this recently to mount an Asus Z9PE-D8 WS in an EATX CaseLabs.
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Old 09 September 2012   #9
Originally Posted by dmeyer: That particular Supermicro board does not have any PCI-E x16?



PCI Express 3.0 x16
- 4 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (dual x16 or quad x8)
- 2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16
- 1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x8 mode)


formatting was wonky.. but looks like it does v3 and 2 x16
 
Old 09 September 2012   #10
Originally Posted by dmeyer: SSI-EEB will fit in an e-ATX case but some of the mount holes won't line up. You can easily remove the unneeded mounts and drill your own if you're handy with a drill and tap. I did this recently to mount an Asus Z9PE-D8 WS in an EATX CaseLabs.



good to know.. i knew there was a reason for buying that Dremel!
 
Old 09 September 2012   #11
so I received a pretty quick response from Fractal support:

"...based off of our specs listed online, because we do not say that SSI EEB works. You would be trying this at your own risk .."

However:

"The only difference between the two is that the SSI EEB board is the same size as an EATX (12 13 in as opposed to the ATX spec 12 x 9.6) - they also share the same I/O (motherboard backpane) dimensions. If a case fits an EATX motherboard it should fit a SSI EEB. "

I thought this might be, but its' always ok to ask. It may be necessary to do some minor tweeks or mods to get a SSI-EEB board into a case that support EATX.

... or you could just buy one that already supports it

good luck!
 
Old 09 September 2012   #12
2 cents

Question, what is it that you typically work on is it more 30 second type spots or more feature length type work? The reason I ask is because I have that same motherboard, which is great btw, but it does limit you to 64 GB RAM. I bought it because I couldn't wait for the SR-X but it turns out that it didn't matter because the E5's were locked anyway so no "free" overclocking. I just finished up a 30 second spot for the Superdome, full HD and I was utilizing about 40GB of my RAM. That being said, if I had it to do again I would seriously look at the Supermicro boards for the simple reason of higher max RAM (some as high as 512GB). With that though you would also probably want to add a nice sound card like the E Claro or something.

BTW I think it's great to see you building from scratch, I think for high end it's a great approach.

Edit: I forgot to mention, I was considering the H100s as well but was swayed at the last minute to the Noctua's and they have been great because they are very quiet and with no overclocking it isn't an issue.
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Last edited by qwatkins : 09 September 2012 at 12:10 PM.
 
Old 09 September 2012   #13
Hey tswalk, dmeyer, thanks for the great suggestions and for inquiring about the motherboards. I have been educating myself a bit more in the past few days and shopped around for better pricing. I came up with slightly different specs that makes more sense, which I will post shortly.

Thanks for your input qwatkins. I don't do a lot of motion work, mostly high resolution print work. This might look like an animation rig, but really I just want to speed up my still renders with as many cores as possible and a decent graphics card for GPU previews. The extra power will be welcomed when I do occasional motion work though.

I'm still undecided as far as motherboard selection. Every time I find one that I like and fits the specs, I read terrible reviews.

I took into consideration a lot of what has been discussed in this thread so far for my updated components selection. Overall, I think it's a solid configuration, but I do have a few questions which I will address soon.
 
Old 09 September 2012   #14
New Specs

I'm almost there with the components. My first post was a little uninformed, but it was more of a starting point for advices.

MB: ? ASUS Z9PE-D8 - $590
CPU: 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2690 2.9GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) - $4,200
RAM: 64 GB Kingston DDR3 1600 ECC REG (8x8gb) - $475
GPU: Nvidia Quadro 4000 - $750

SSD: Corsair 480gb SSD Force Series - $400
COOL: 2 x Corsair H100 - $200
PSU: Corsair 1200w - $240
CASE: Corsair Obsidian 800D - $280

With Win 7, dvd, keyboard and mouse the total cost is about $8,000 tx in.
The price bumped 2K from my original config, but this is a better machine as well. Processor went from 2.6 to 2.9, doubled the SSD size, picked better ram, better case. Also, I configured an equivalent Boxx as a reference, which ended up being $13,000. So we are more looking at 2/3 of the price rather than 1/2. I did a lot of shopping around and compared. Will also pick a few parts locally to save on shipping.

As you can see, I picked a lot of Corsair parts. They have great reviews and it seems that they are built solid. Their price is slightly above the average, but combining all these parts also insures compatibility with one another.

A few questions to come.
 
Old 09 September 2012   #15
I wonder where you're gonna put that 2nd radiator?
 
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