Question Best Xeon for Workstation Use and Light Gaming?

HappyTorrent

Commendable
Nov 8, 2016
47
0
1,530
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First of all, hi y'all! Been a while since I've been to the forums, not a fan of the new UI for mobile though. Seems a bit clunky and the ads are much more aggressive, but that's not what this post is about lol.

I'm looking to do a budget workstation/gaming rig. Yes, I'm aware of this magical Intel processor called "Core i×" but I DO NOT want to work with a Core™ processor or budget AMD chip. So please, for the love of God don't respond with "well why don't you just use this or this" because I'm gonna tell you right now: I want to do THIS! Now, what is this? How did this begin? Why this?

Well, I want to build a personal machine using server hardware. I've spent the past 2 or 3 years building PCs with consumer parts. Now I want to broaden my horizons. I'm looking to use a Xeon, well two Xeons actually. Problem is I don't know Jack squat about the Xeon family. Don't really know how they perform and have only had brief moments using them. I've done some googling about what I want to do but nobody has been helpful, every thread always ends with someone saying "wELl wHY dOnT yOU UsE a CoRE pRoCeSSoR" which is what I don't want to do. I'm hoping you lovely people could point me in the right direction as to what Xeon to use, what board to buy, what hardware I'm gonna need for I/O. I'll get into that a bit further in just a second.

Now why would I want to do this? Well, I recently picked up an ancient custom built workstation machine that used dual Athlon X2 Processors and an IDE raid card. I spent the better part of a week trying to get windows or Linux on it without any luck, gave up and gutted it. Now it's dual Athlon Hearts sit on my floor while it's lifeless Antec case was fitted with an old Pentium 4 board then traded for a PowerMac G5 (which has been another project of mine lol). After killing that Athlon machine (dubbed Evidence V.2, named after my other Antec machine named Evidence), it left me wanting something. Wanting more, running dual CPUs just seemed wild to me and I need to get the full experience with newer hardware!


Now, here's a basic idea of what I'm looking for:

Dual Xeons, something new-ish but not extremely expensive. 6 or 8 cores,

Motherboard should have dual socket, have DDR3(whatever Server equivalent is) support, sata ports too.

What expansion cards will I need? I assume maybe a sound card, maybe a USB I/O card, raid card? I understand server boards are different and lack features of consumer boards. 2 PCI-E slots, if possible I'd want to use dual GPUs.

Graphics card(s): Depending on the CPUs performance, I'm thinking of using either older GTX cards or RX460s. Something cheap, ya know?

Cooling: If possible, I want to use AIO coolers for the processors. Will a consumer AIO mount to the sockets or are they a different mount all together? Will I be stuck with server heat sinks? Please let me know.

Case: I got a case in mind, something that's been sitting on my project back burner for the better part of the last few years.

Budget: Not sure honestly lol, obviously not looking to spend $1k+ on this. I know server hardware is expensive, that's why I'm looking to go a bit older, let's say 4 or 5 years older.

Again, thanks for any help. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not respond with ----- like "Well you should just use a Sandy Bridge i7" or "Why server? That ain't practical!" Listen, I (for the most part) know what I'm getting into. This isn't a build looking for amazing gaming performance, this is me wanting to mess with server hardware while using it for music, video, and image production and a bit of gaming on the side. Thanks for looking, thanks for helping! :}
 
Last edited by a moderator:

HappyTorrent

Commendable
Nov 8, 2016
47
0
1,530
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Buy a used HP Z8xx or Dell T series workstation. The Z820 uses E5-2xxx V1 and V2 CPUs. The Z840 uses E5-2xxx V3 and V4 CPUs. Dell has equivalent models.
My bad, probably should've mentioned I want to avoid buying a prebuilt system. Mainly it seems anyone selling a prebuilt server is asking a 💩 ton of $$ for it lol, locally that is. Havent bothered checking online cuz shipping will more than likely cost more than the prebuilt is worth
 

HappyTorrent

Commendable
Nov 8, 2016
47
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1,530
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Sorry, I don't recommend any other option. Dual socket motherboards are finicky enough that I only recommend buying them with their supporting ecosystem.
Well, would you be able to get me the motherboard model number of the Dell systems? I'm working in a Dell case, so I see no trouble in using a Dell motherboard as long as it meets my criteria
 
I agree with Kanewolf. Aftermarket dual socket boards are rare and big $$$ even used, especially to stay within your budget a prebuilt is BY FAR the way to go.

As for obtaining just a motherboard, not really cost effective, you can likely get the whole setup used on ebay for what the board would cost.

Lets see some of your other questions:

Most will use DDR3 ECC which is more money and a little slower, but easily available.

You will need sound, you won't need USB, and definitely not RAID (and please for the love of god don't use RAID on a home system).

Dual GPUs? only if for rendering, SLI doesn't work on Server boards, Crossfire occasionally does. Aside from the fact cheap cards usually don't support it anyway.

Cooling, AIOs will work on most of the processors you may get.

Keep in mind that second CPU is basically useless, games won't use it, and only certain software supports it.

We do have users that repurpose old servers all the time, hopefully one will chime in here.
 

HappyTorrent

Commendable
Nov 8, 2016
47
0
1,530
US
I don't have any Dell reference materials. I purchase HP... Sorry.
I purchase pretty much everything lul
I agree with Kanewolf. Aftermarket dual socket boards are rare and big $$$ even used, especially to stay within your budget a prebuilt is BY FAR the way to go.

As for obtaining just a motherboard, not really cost effective, you can likely get the whole setup used on ebay for what the board would cost.

Lets see some of your other questions:

Most will use DDR3 ECC which is more money and a little slower, but easily available.

You will need sound, you won't need USB, and definitely not RAID (and please for the love of god don't use RAID on a home system).

Dual GPUs? only if for rendering, SLI doesn't work on Server boards, Crossfire occasionally does. Aside from the fact cheap cards usually don't support it anyway.

Cooling, AIOs will work on most of the processors you may get.

Keep in mind that second CPU is basically useless, games won't use it, and only certain software supports it.

We do have users that repurpose old servers all the time, hopefully one will chime in here.
Not to be rude, but you're basically telling me exactly what I said not to. Prebuilt ain't worth it, local used prices are absurd and Shipping from out of state is even more ludicrous. I'd have better luck just buying the prebuilts board.

Yes, I'm aware dual processors is pointless for everyday tasks, again I don't care. It's more of a "just cuz I can" sort of thing. I know raid is gonna be a pain in the *** but would be worth it, again just cuz I can.

Yes, I would appreciate anyone who repurposes server hardware to respond. Essentially I just need to know what Xeons would be decent enough for workstation use, if not Xeon then maybe AMDs Opteron or whatever the other server chip is lol
 
Not to be rude, but you're basically telling me exactly what I said not to. Prebuilt ain't worth it, local used prices are absurd and Shipping from out of state is even more ludicrous. I'd have better luck just buying the prebuilts board.

Yes, I'm aware dual processors is pointless for everyday tasks, again I don't care. It's more of a "just cuz I can" sort of thing. I know raid is gonna be a pain in the *** but would be worth it, again just cuz I can.

Yes, I would appreciate anyone who repurposes server hardware to respond. Essentially I just need to know what Xeons would be decent enough for workstation use, if not Xeon then maybe AMDs Opteron or whatever the other server chip is lol
Not to be rude back but you came here looking for an answer I'm answering it as best I can, I am not going to sit there and refer back through every sentence I write line by line. Not only that, your last line:

Budget: Not sure honestly lol, obviously not looking to spend $1k+ on this. I know server hardware is expensive, that's why I'm looking to go a bit older, let's say 4 or 5 years older.
If you read my response closely that is exactly what it is based on. Go look for an ASUS Dual CPU LGA 2011 Board, even an old one (they came out in 2011), they are NOT cheap. And nowhere along the way did you say "no prebuilts". Take a look at eBay, theres plenty and shipping if you find the right seller is reasonable. The folks with experience building these things will tell you the same .

Despite your rudeness I'll give you a starting point. If I were you I'd build off of this

https://www.ebay.com/itm/X9DRI-F-Supermicro-Xeon-Dual-Socket-LGA2011-EATX-Motherboard-w-Dual-Heatsink/172952649406?hash=item2844c7febe:g:rt4AAOSwyXFbkt3i:sc:UPSGround!11566!US!-1

That will get you into a CPU worth using from the past 8-9 years . Heres the site for it

https://www.supermicro.com/products/motherboard/Xeon/C600/X9DRi-F.cfm

Check the CPU list you need 2 E5-2600 or E5-2600v2 cpus. they are about $300 each usually but you can find deals sometimes.

But if you buy this whole mess in a decommissioned Dell you will get it for like half the price. THATS my point.

example

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Dell-precision-t7600-Dual-Xeon-E5-2670/173874491745?hash=item287bba3161:g:gRkAAOSwolRcoT~D
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Dual GPU limits your dual CPU motherboard choices to those that also support SLI and/or crossfire.
Typically, server boards have limited GPU functionality.

AIO coolers on each CPU means you need a case with space for the two radiators.
 
Have you thought about the power supply for this? Multiple CPUs and GPUs is going to push it up to a pretty high level. Some of the OEM workstations will have power supplies with enough cabling, but buying an off the shelf PSU and motherboard is going to be around $160 on its own. Biggest driver there will be multiple EPS power connectors, depending on the board. And the fancy ones that support SLI might demand another for the PCIe sockets.
 

crystalcity

Proper
Dec 5, 2018
108
7
185
Awful lot of qualifiers. If its just for the lulz adopt something older. I run a dual 771 system, works great. Yeah yeah I know it breaks a few of your qualifiers. Just a thought.

The really old stuff is cheap fun. On some of the older cpu's I run the shipping was more than the cpu cost.
 
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HappyTorrent

Commendable
Nov 8, 2016
47
0
1,530
US
Have you thought about the power supply for this? Multiple CPUs and GPUs is going to push it up to a pretty high level. Some of the OEM workstations will have power supplies with enough cabling, but buying an off the shelf PSU and motherboard is going to be around $160 on its own. Biggest driver there will be multiple EPS power connectors, depending on the board. And the fancy ones that support SLI might demand another for the PCIe sockets.
Not worried about PSU, got a few server and OEM units that I used for running and testing car audio amps.
 

HappyTorrent

Commendable
Nov 8, 2016
47
0
1,530
US
Dual GPU limits your dual CPU motherboard choices to those that also support SLI and/or crossfire.
Typically, server boards have limited GPU functionality.

AIO coolers on each CPU means you need a case with space for the two radiators.
Case I got covered, trust me it has plenty of space. Not extremely worried about SLI, more of a "Hey, I got two CPUs so I'ma run two GPUs cuz lol"
 

HappyTorrent

Commendable
Nov 8, 2016
47
0
1,530
US
First of all, hi y'all! Been a while since I've been to the forums, not a fan of the new UI for mobile though. Seems a bit clunky and the ads are much more aggressive, but that's not what this post is about lol.

I'm looking to do a budget workstation/gaming rig. Yes, I'm aware of this magical Intel processor called "Core i×" but I DO NOT want to work with a Core™ processor or budget AMD chip. So please, for the love of God don't respond with "well why don't you just use this or this" because I'm gonna tell you right now: I want to do THIS! Now, what is this? How did this begin? Why this?

Well, I want to build a personal machine using server hardware. I've spent the past 2 or 3 years building PCs with consumer parts. Now I want to broaden my horizons. I'm looking to use a Xeon, well two Xeons actually. Problem is I don't know Jack squat about the Xeon family. Don't really know how they perform and have only had brief moments using them. I've done some googling about what I want to do but nobody has been helpful, every thread always ends with someone saying "wELl wHY dOnT yOU UsE a CoRE pRoCeSSoR" which is what I don't want to do. I'm hoping you lovely people could point me in the right direction as to what Xeon to use, what board to buy, what hardware I'm gonna need for I/O. I'll get into that a bit further in just a second.

Now why would I want to do this? Well, I recently picked up an ancient custom built workstation machine that used dual Athlon X2 Processors and an IDE raid card. I spent the better part of a week trying to get windows or Linux on it without any luck, gave up and gutted it. Now it's dual Athlon Hearts sit on my floor while it's lifeless Antec case was fitted with an old Pentium 4 board then traded for a PowerMac G5 (which has been another project of mine lol). After killing that Athlon machine (dubbed Evidence V.2, named after my other Antec machine named Evidence), it left me wanting something. Wanting more, running dual CPUs just seemed wild to me and I need to get the full experience with newer hardware!


Now, here's a basic idea of what I'm looking for:

Dual Xeons, something new-ish but not extremely expensive. 6 or 8 cores,

Motherboard should have dual socket, have DDR3(whatever Server equivalent is) support, sata ports too.

What expansion cards will I need? I assume maybe a sound card, maybe a USB I/O card, raid card? I understand server boards are different and lack features of consumer boards. 2 PCI-E slots, if possible I'd want to use dual GPUs.

Graphics card(s): Depending on the CPUs performance, I'm thinking of using either older GTX cards or RX460s. Something cheap, ya know?

Cooling: If possible, I want to use AIO coolers for the processors. Will a consumer AIO mount to the sockets or are they a different mount all together? Will I be stuck with server heat sinks? Please let me know.

Case: I got a case in mind, something that's been sitting on my project back burner for the better part of the last few years.

Budget: Not sure honestly lol, obviously not looking to spend $1k+ on this. I know server hardware is expensive, that's why I'm looking to go a bit older, let's say 4 or 5 years older.

Again, thanks for any help. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not respond with ----- like "Well you should just use a Sandy Bridge i7" or "Why server? That ain't practical!" Listen, I (for the most part) know what I'm getting into. This isn't a build looking for amazing gaming performance, this is me wanting to mess with server hardware while using it for music, video, and image production and a bit of gaming on the side. Thanks for looking, thanks for helping! :}
I'll clear some things up:

Not looking for prebuilt, if I wanted prebuilt then I wouldn't be here.

Dual graphics cards isn't a necessity, more just a "lul" thing.

Power supply isn't a problem, got plenty of server and consumer PSUs from testing car audio.

I am looking for a good cheap Xeon that's still good for moderate workstation and light gaming. So far all y'all have told me is the same stuff I've seen on every other forum. Please, if you have anything helpful then by all means please say it. If not, then don't comment on this post.
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Most of the comments here have just been in response to things you mentioned, and may simply have not thought through to completion.
Dual GPU, dual AIO coolers.

Or things you may not have thought of, like the server level PSU to run the theoretical dual GPU.

Moving on:
--------------------------------------------------------
Buy this motherboard:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/SUPERMICRO-X9DRI-F-Dual-Socket-XEON-LGA2011-Extended-ATX-Server-Motherboard/303029793059?epid=127391257&hash=item468dfbb123:g:KUwAAOSw3JdcS55k

Buy two of these:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Intel-Xeon-E5-2670V2-SR1A7-2-50GHz-10-Core-CPU-115W-25MB-Ivy-Bridge-LGA2011/163652628279?hash=item261a74ef37:g:l90AAOSwPa1cq2Mp

Buy however much ECC DDR3 RAM you want for it.
 
I'll clear some things up:

Not looking for prebuilt, if I wanted prebuilt then I wouldn't be here.

Dual graphics cards isn't a necessity, more just a "lul" thing.

Power supply isn't a problem, got plenty of server and consumer PSUs from testing car audio.

I am looking for a good cheap Xeon that's still good for moderate workstation and light gaming. So far all y'all have told me is the same stuff I've seen on every other forum. Please, if you have anything helpful then by all means please say it. If not, then don't comment on this post.

You could still buy a prebuilt and gut it for what you need (board, processors, ram, or just one of the 3 parts). I did nothing but respond directly to your post, exactly what you asked for, and gave you some pretty solid answers, and mentioned points that you gave no indication of whether you know the answer or not (ie the inability of a server board to run SLI). I'm allowed to toss my opinion in there, you are not the owner of this message board or the rule maker, and in no way did I judge you or anything. But you can't get over yourself so I'm done. Good luck with your money pit.
 

jed.r.w

Prominent
Jan 25, 2018
26
0
560
I think your sweet spot might be a dual 1366 socket system. I run one with dual x5675 xeons (6 cores/12 threads each, at 3.07GHz) on a supermicro x8dth-i motherboard. It was originally put together for a proof of concept for a virtualisation server to power some of the 3d workflow at my workplace, multiple workstations each with a single GPU. However it's now my home testing rig/media server/second gaming machine. Happily runs games at 60-100fps on a pass through RX580 while handling multiple plex transcodes and anything else I choose to throw at it on another vm.

Some points which may interest you are I originally bought a Dell r420 and stripped it of the 48GB RAM, CPUs and drives. Which cost £200 here in the UK and the motherboard cost me about £90 on Ebay. Most of the rest I threw together from bits I had laying around. Cheap ssd for a boot drive. I managed to get spare nvme drive to work through a pcie adapter (no nvme boot sadly) but works great as a vdisk drive for vms. The GPU and 750w coolarmaster psu I also had spare.

For cooling I went with coolarmaster hyper 412r as they fit a 4U chassis and they work fine... 75 degrees max. Fitting was a bit tricky since I believe the xeon boards for 1366 socketshave pre threaded mounts installed already where as the consumer X58 boards do not, as such the provided mounting screws did not fit through the mounting holes in the motherboard. Long story short I had to use some spare mounting hardware to thread directly into the motherboard mounts and washers to add tension but they are solid now. I also went with a separate fan controller since server boards run fans fast and loud.

Hopefully you find at least some of this of use.
 
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ShadeSlayer812

Reputable
Dec 1, 2015
51
2
4,565
US
Buying online should have free shipping from most sellers. The only time I would recommend building a workstation with a dual socket is if you really know what you are doing. The only reason to do this is "just for fun", which, imo, is a pretty good reason IF you have money to loose and have a backup PC in case you fail.
 

HappyTorrent

Commendable
Nov 8, 2016
47
0
1,530
US
Buying online should have free shipping from most sellers. The only time I would recommend building a workstation with a dual socket is if you really know what you are doing. The only reason to do this is "just for fun", which, imo, is a pretty good reason IF you have money to loose and have a backup PC in case you fail.

I got a bunch of PCs lying around, most of them are what's gonna be funding my money pit workstation 🤣
 

HappyTorrent

Commendable
Nov 8, 2016
47
0
1,530
US
I think your sweet spot might be a dual 1366 socket system. I run one with dual x5675 xeons (6 cores/12 threads each, at 3.07GHz) on a supermicro x8dth-i motherboard. It was originally put together for a proof of concept for a virtualisation server to power some of the 3d workflow at my workplace, multiple workstations each with a single GPU. However it's now my home testing rig/media server/second gaming machine. Happily runs games at 60-100fps on a pass through RX580 while handling multiple plex transcodes and anything else I choose to throw at it on another vm.

Some points which may interest you are I originally bought a Dell r420 and stripped it of the 48GB RAM, CPUs and drives. Which cost £200 here in the UK and the motherboard cost me about £90 on Ebay. Most of the rest I threw together from bits I had laying around. Cheap ssd for a boot drive. I managed to get spare nvme drive to work through a pcie adapter (no nvme boot sadly) but works great as a vdisk drive for vms. The GPU and 750w coolarmaster psu I also had spare.

For cooling I went with coolarmaster hyper 412r as they fit a 4U chassis and they work fine... 75 degrees max. Fitting was a bit tricky since I believe the xeon boards for 1366 socketshave pre threaded mounts installed already where as the consumer X58 boards do not, as such the provided mounting screws did not fit through the mounting holes in the motherboard. Long story short I had to use some spare mounting hardware to thread directly into the motherboard mounts and washers to add tension but they are solid now. I also went with a separate fan controller since server boards run fans fast and loud.

Hopefully you find at least some of this of use.
Thank you! That's actually really useful, I appreciate the help :)

I know someone locally was selling a couple of 1366 xeons, I'll have to take a look at them and look around for a nice board.
 

HappyTorrent

Commendable
Nov 8, 2016
47
0
1,530
US
Little update to my workstation build, or money pit as so many of you were kind enough to elaborate :)

Following in jed.r.w's footsteps, I've decided to do a dual LGA 1366 build. Been busy with family and roommate drama but otherwise I've been focused on getting parts for this build.

Build specs:
What I have so far;

Raidmax Vampire Case ($20)

x2 Xeon E5649 6 core CPUs ($25 for pair)

RX 570 4GB Asus Strix ($70)

What I need to get;

Intel S5520HC motherboard ($70?)

x4 2TB hdds, cuz why not lol ($60)

DDR3 ECC RAM (?)GB (TBD)

PSU is TBD

Prices are what I've seen on local listings (thanks OfferUp lol) and stuff like RAM and PSU is TBD because I'm either waiting for a person to respond or something else.

Let's talking cooling. How do I plan to cool my money pit? Well my case can fit two 120mm rads in the top portion, so I was originally thinking a couple of 120mm AIOs. Not only will it be somewhat quieter, it'll also look more cleaner and industrial (sort of the theme of my build). Problem with AIOs is they can be pricey and in the event of a pump failure I'm sort of S.O.L. So my next idea is a pair of noctua air coolers. Perhaps they'll cool the CPUs better, but I'd have to change out fans to match my build. Also concerned that ram clearance is gonna be an issue. So cooling is TBD atm. I'd also like to mention that a lot of these parts I'm buying secondhand because it's cheaper and locals got some decent deals.

"But Happy, why don't you buy a prebuilt?!"

Because nobody is selling a prebuilt locally. Shipping would be a nightmare if I bought on eBay, also I wouldn't really need anything from the prebuilt aside from maybe the RAm which even then isn't worth it. Overall it's still cheaper for me to build a workstation rather than buying a prebuilt. I was trying to explain that but a lot of people didn't seem to understand.

Anyway, I'll keep updating this post with my build progress. Eventually once I get all parts I'll do a build video. Think of this as a sort of guide to building a xeon workstation. Seeing as there's a lack of good support on forums for this lol

Once again, thank you jed.r.w for sharing your build specs and giving me a good idea of what to go for
 

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