[SOLVED] CPU Swap in Dell Precision T3500 Workstation

Oct 27, 2020
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Hiya all,

Got the deal of the century from work - a free Dell Precision T3500 workstation running a quad-core Intel Xeon E5520, 12GB RAM and an Nvidia Quadro FX580 and 2x 1 TB SATA HDD. Yay, lucky me!

Now I'm looking into swapping the quad-core Xeon with a hexa-core Xeon without spending extra bucks on cooling and PSU upgrade. These CPU's, especially the X56xx ones can be aggressive bitches with a TDP up to 130W, so with the stock PSU I'm trying to stay as low as possible with TDP values.

Upon browsing cpu-world.com I learned that the quad-core E5520 runs @2267 MHz with a TDP of 80 W.
The same cpu-world.com tells me that there is a hexa-core L5640 running @2267 MHz with a TDP of 60 W.

Methinks it would be a no-brainer and approx 15 bucks spent on the CPU and a tube of thermal paste with 15 minutes of my life spent on the swap and 12 threads, here we are. Eventually an L5645 would also be a good option too running @2400 MHz and TDP 60 W.

I want a stable system so no need in overclocking and as I said, no high TDP.

Would really appreciate your thoughts on this.

Cheers, Zoltan
 
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Thanks for your reply. Seems that I will have to check the exact M/B rev # and also the BIOS version in order to see which CPU upgrades are possible. The X5670 looks a sweet little option. It would add only 15 W extra TDP which the stock PSU would easily handle, but add some serious performance boost. I plan to run - at least at this point - mathematical simulations in Mathematica and MathCad, which packages - I assume - would greatly benefit from 2 more cores. 12GB RAM will help too, I reckon.
You're welcome!

With what you are doing, the x5670 is almost a must. I would also consider upping the ram to 48gb using Kingston KTD-PE313E/8G, which seems to be confirmed to work here:
https://www.dell.com/community/Desktops-General-Read-Only/What-specific-type-of-memory-is-supported-by-the-Precision-T3500/td-p/3285794

In addition, because the t3500 is just a single processor and doesn't need the dual processor capability of the x5xxx series, you can also use the w36xx series which can be even a little more faster, but at the cost of a 130w tdp which will probably need the higher performance factory cooler:
https://www.cpubenchmark.net/compare/Intel-Xeon-E5520-vs-Intel-Xeon-L5640-vs-Intel-Xeon-X5670-vs-Intel-Xeon-W3680-vs-Intel-Xeon-W3690/1243vs1263vs1307vs1274vs1275

Also a really, really great thread chock full of upgrade information on these workstations here:
https://www.techpowerup.com/forums/threads/dell-workstation-owners-club.243124/page-15
 
Reactions: Zoltan Kandi
Congrats! Seems like others over the same years have had the same fortune from work and have done the same processor upgrade you are contemplating. But there are some caveats as there were 3 different motherboard models for the t3500 and not all of them supported all the processors:
https://www.dell.com/community/Desktops-General-Read-Only/T3500-CPU-upgrade-options/td-p/4563135

That being said, your upgrade idea should work as long as your motherboard supports the processors and they will give a slight single thread performance boost and add 2 more cores. I'd also consider the x5670 as it is slightly more power than what you have now, but would be almost 30% faster single thread performance and add 2x cores:
https://www.cpubenchmark.net/compare/Intel-Xeon-E5520-vs-Intel-Xeon-L5640-vs-Intel-Xeon-X5670/1243vs1263vs1307

Congrats on the new system! Enjoy it and happy upgrading!
 
Reactions: Zoltan Kandi
Oct 27, 2020
19
2
15
1
Congrats! Seems like others over the same years have had the same fortune from work and have done the same processor upgrade you are contemplating. But there are some caveats as there were 3 different motherboard models for the t3500 and not all of them supported all the processors:
https://www.dell.com/community/Desktops-General-Read-Only/T3500-CPU-upgrade-options/td-p/4563135

That being said, your upgrade idea should work as long as your motherboard supports the processors and they will give a slight single thread performance boost and add 2 more cores. I'd also consider the x5670 as it is slightly more power than what you have now, but would be almost 30% faster single thread performance and add 2x cores:
https://www.cpubenchmark.net/compare/Intel-Xeon-E5520-vs-Intel-Xeon-L5640-vs-Intel-Xeon-X5670/1243vs1263vs1307

Congrats on the new system! Enjoy it and happy upgrading!
Thanks for your reply. Seems that I will have to check the exact M/B rev # and also the BIOS version in order to see which CPU upgrades are possible. The X5670 looks a sweet little option. It would add only 15 W extra TDP which the stock PSU would easily handle, but add some serious performance boost. I plan to run - at least at this point - mathematical simulations in Mathematica and MathCad, which packages - I assume - would greatly benefit from 2 more cores. 12GB RAM will help too, I reckon.
 
Thanks for your reply. Seems that I will have to check the exact M/B rev # and also the BIOS version in order to see which CPU upgrades are possible. The X5670 looks a sweet little option. It would add only 15 W extra TDP which the stock PSU would easily handle, but add some serious performance boost. I plan to run - at least at this point - mathematical simulations in Mathematica and MathCad, which packages - I assume - would greatly benefit from 2 more cores. 12GB RAM will help too, I reckon.
You're welcome!

With what you are doing, the x5670 is almost a must. I would also consider upping the ram to 48gb using Kingston KTD-PE313E/8G, which seems to be confirmed to work here:
https://www.dell.com/community/Desktops-General-Read-Only/What-specific-type-of-memory-is-supported-by-the-Precision-T3500/td-p/3285794

In addition, because the t3500 is just a single processor and doesn't need the dual processor capability of the x5xxx series, you can also use the w36xx series which can be even a little more faster, but at the cost of a 130w tdp which will probably need the higher performance factory cooler:
https://www.cpubenchmark.net/compare/Intel-Xeon-E5520-vs-Intel-Xeon-L5640-vs-Intel-Xeon-X5670-vs-Intel-Xeon-W3680-vs-Intel-Xeon-W3690/1243vs1263vs1307vs1274vs1275

Also a really, really great thread chock full of upgrade information on these workstations here:
https://www.techpowerup.com/forums/threads/dell-workstation-owners-club.243124/page-15
 
Reactions: Zoltan Kandi
Oct 27, 2020
19
2
15
1
You're welcome!

With what you are doing, the x5670 is almost a must. I would also consider upping the ram to 48gb using Kingston KTD-PE313E/8G, which seems to be confirmed to work here:
https://www.dell.com/community/Desktops-General-Read-Only/What-specific-type-of-memory-is-supported-by-the-Precision-T3500/td-p/3285794

In addition, because the t3500 is just a single processor and doesn't need the dual processor capability of the x5xxx series, you can also use the w36xx series which can be even a little more faster, but at the cost of a 130w tdp which will probably need the higher performance factory cooler:
https://www.cpubenchmark.net/compare/Intel-Xeon-E5520-vs-Intel-Xeon-L5640-vs-Intel-Xeon-X5670-vs-Intel-Xeon-W3680-vs-Intel-Xeon-W3690/1243vs1263vs1307vs1274vs1275

Also a really, really great thread chock full of upgrade information on these workstations here:
https://www.techpowerup.com/forums/threads/dell-workstation-owners-club.243124/page-15
Once again, many thanks for the load of useful info you have provided.

At first using 12GB RAM didn't make sense - why not 8 or 16? What can I say, I'm used to powers of 2. I never knew there existed such a thing als triple-channel RAM...

I have found a sixpack of Kingston KTD-PE313K3/24G, which is PC3-10666 (DDR3-1333) ECC REG and that would indeed bring the max amount of RAM to 48GB. Even the half of it would mean 24GB, which is double the current capacity.

Dumb question: 48G RAM plus the X5670 -> would I need to up my cooling and my PSU, just in case?

I also found a sixpack of Super Talent Chrome Series PC3-12800 (DDR3-1600) 6GB (3x2GB) CL9 Triple Channel Memory Kit WB160UX6G9 relatively cheap.

Six modules would mean only 12GB but they have cooling ribs and run at 1600MHz. Will this higher speed mean better compatibility and stability when used in combination with CPU's running on higher speeds (e.g. on 3.2GHZ)? The X5670 you recommended runs @2933 MHz so I would assume that using DDR3-1600 RAM would be safer than using DDR3-1333?
 
Once again, many thanks for the load of useful info you have provided.

At first using 12GB RAM didn't make sense - why not 8 or 16? What can I say, I'm used to powers of 2. I never knew there existed such a thing als triple-channel RAM...

I have found a sixpack of Kingston KTD-PE313K3/24G, which is PC3-10666 (DDR3-1333) ECC REG and that would indeed bring the max amount of RAM to 48GB. Even the half of it would mean 24GB, which is double the current capacity.

Dumb question: 48G RAM plus the X5670 -> would I need to up my cooling and my PSU, just in case?

I also found a sixpack of Super Talent Chrome Series PC3-12800 (DDR3-1600) 6GB (3x2GB) CL9 Triple Channel Memory Kit WB160UX6G9 relatively cheap.

Six modules would mean only 12GB but they have cooling ribs and run at 1600MHz. Will this higher speed mean better compatibility and stability when used in combination with CPU's running on higher speeds (e.g. on 3.2GHZ)? The X5670 you recommended runs @2933 MHz so I would assume that using DDR3-1600 RAM would be safer than using DDR3-1333?
You're welcome. Yeah, the 3x multiplier threw me at first too, but it a quirk of the lga1366 platform as even my servers have banks of 3.

Until you've tested an ecc reg module and confirmed it working, I wouldn't spend the money yet. Generally used ecc reg is quite cheap too--under $1/gb for smaller modules like 4GB and $1/gb for 8GB modules. I have all used memory and picked it up even cheaper than this in bulk. Just avoid the 'new' fakes from overseas.

PSU should be fine as these were spec'd to run these power hungry processors unless there are two versions of the power supply--then you may have to confirm you have the higher powered one. I would up the cooling to the performance set if noise is a factor as the fan would probably increase in speed to compensate for the increased 15w tdp on the basic heatsink. But those basic heatsinks are quite good. I run 95w processors on the 65w versions of them all time after setting the cpu fan to 100%. I set every fan to 100%--noise doesn't bother me. ;) Unreliability bothers me. :D

Because 4GB and 8GB ddr modules were also made non-ecc non-reg, these are what I would opt for if ecc reg doesn't work. You get additional system stability from ecc reg (and that's why servers use them). There is also an ecc non-reg 8gb module, but I've rarely seen them for less than $25/ea and I don't if the ecc will work with t3500 like that.

Higher ram speeds actually are harder to keep stable. So the faster the modules, the more of a chance for a bit error to crash the system. But this is also a function of heat, and I have seen bit errors go away on an z420 when better memory cooling was put in place. I don't know how good the stock t3500 memory cooling is.

This is also where the ecc part of ecc memory helps--the more ram you have, the more bits and the more chances for bit errors. It's one of the reasons why consumer systems don't have 32GB or 64GB modules like servers do and ecc non-reg is pretty common now on consumer ddr4 modules.

As far as in relation to the processor--it will know what the max memory it can run and working with the chipset will run the memory at the fastest speed it can--that part you don't have to worry about. :)
 
Reactions: Zoltan Kandi
Oct 27, 2020
19
2
15
1
Update on the build. The config is the following:

  • INTEL XEON 6 CORE X5670 12M CACHE - 2.93 GHZ - SLBV7 - 25 USD
  • ionz Alseye 120 mm AiO Water Cooling FRGB System - 50 USD
  • 2x HP Invent D33373 300 GB 15K SAS (old cupboard reserve)
  • 6x2GB stock RAM at this point
Putting it together as I'm writing this.

In the pipeline:
  • 6x 8GB Kingston KTD-PE313K3/24G PC3-10666 (DDR3-1333) ECC REG
Can someone help me to this without the need to sell one of my kidneys? Would need to ship to the Netherlands, though.
 
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How are you going to install the new cpu cooler? Dell's setup is pretty proprietary and you may run into error messages you have to clear at each boot.

Have you completely confirmed that this memory will work? If so, you can use any server ecc reg ddr3 and you should be good. This stuff should be quite cheap at ~$1 usd/gb shipped. I know there's some of this in the EU too on reddit homelabsales.
 

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