I7 build for Science/Math

dave_74

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Objectives:

- I'm trying to build a highly overclockable, stable, core i7.
- The computer is for data crunching and needs to be very fast (but also stable).
- Specifically the program does integer operations on arrray/data tables in memory (not that many Floating-Point operations).
- The system will run for long periods of time without break (run all day, maybe multiple days).
- Gaming/graphics is a rather low concern (yes i game, but i'll probably never use CF/SLI)
- Likewise hard drive, CD/DVD, can be rather bare bones.
- I am a programmer* (with an asterisks, because i'm a math/science guy who needs to program), but semi hardware illiterate on the latest tech... so u'r advice is appreciated.

Here is the system i am considering building (See bottom). I plan on purchasing the system in the next day or so.
Feel free to give general advice, or to answer any of my questions below u feel qualified to answer.

- Q1: As far as overclocking goes, does 975 have a definitive advantage over 965, or is the only real difference the clock speed they are shipped at?
The difference in price between 975 and 965 is about $300 (ebay 965 vs. Newegg 975), so I may downgrade if the consensus is the 975's advantage is trivial.

- Q2: Didn't select the nosebleed memory, considering Mushkin. Saw several benchmarks, and even great differences in ram speeds seemed to make trivial differences: DDR3 1333 vs. 2000. I'm still getting 2000 memory, just not with the lowest possible CAS. Its a very minor performance loss going Mushking, or am I mistaken? Mushkin vs. OCZ blade is about $200 difference.

- Q3: Did i pick a good cooling system: Swiftech's Apex Ultima Liquid Cooling. Note this kit is for CPU only. Was swayed by line of reasoning i read that CPU is usually limiting factor for Overclocking, and if u ask u'r liquid to cool other parts as well, it won't do as great a job on the CPU. Keep in mind i have no game card to cool, and i believe picked a good air-flow case. Upgrading to Multipart liquid cooling kit, an extra $130.

- Q4: This is my first water cooled system i'm building, will the kit be suficient, or are there extras i'll need?

- Q5: Windows Vista: Isn't windows 7 coming out very soon? Is it possible to get it now, advise to wait?

- Q6: If u think another component is definately better for about the same price (and why its better), plz let me know.

- Q7: Picked power supply because of its extra high efficiency. Figured less heat production and smaller energy bill, and more than enough power for even a high OC system, because its not runing 3d graphics cards.

- Q8: Am i missing any components for a complete system?



Intel Core i7-975 Extreme Edition 3.33GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor
Item #: N82E16819115212 (NewEgg)

ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 ATX Intel Motherboard
Item #: N82E16813131365 (NewEgg)

mushkin Redline 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 2000 (PC3 16000) Desktop Memory
Item #:N82E16820226058 (NewEgg)

SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 4850 100245HDMI Video Card
Item #:N82E16814102824 (NewEgg)

Logitech Silver/Black RF Wireless Cordless Desktop
Item #:N82E16823126180 (NewEgg)

PC Power & Cooling Silencer PPCS910 910W Power Supply Compatible with Core i7
Item #:N82E16817703022 (NewEgg)

SAMSUNG 22X DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223F
Item #:N82E16827151171 (NewEgg)

XCLIO WTBK ADVANCED Fully Black Finish Computer Case
Item #:N82E16811103019 (NewEgg)

Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 64-bit for System Builders
Item #: N82E16832116493 (NewEgg)

Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s Internal Hard Drives
Item #: N82E16822136284 (NewEgg)

Swiftech H20-220 Apex Ultima Liquid Cooling Kit (Universal Mount / LGA 1366 Included)
Part #: ex-wat-140 (FrozenCPU)
 
What I have heard of the 975 is not promising.

I would say you have a better chance at a high OC buying a D0 stepping 920. If you get a dud buy a second. You'll still be far ahead of the game.
http://www.tankguys.com/intel-core-i7-920-d0.html

Throw some money at one of the top-end boards.
Gigabyte extreme
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128361

Swiftech water cooling kit
http://www.frozencpu.com/products/8412/ex-wat-141/Swiftech_H20-220_Apex_Ultima_Plus_Liquid_Cooling_Kit_Universal_Mount_LGA_1366_Included.html?tl=g30c321s818
This one has the chipset loop included. To neglect the chipset is a gamble. just like CPUs, they are not all created equal. You could get a hot one.


You want a PSU with very low ripple and V-droop. You do NOT need 910W for this rig. The Antec Signature 650 comes to mind:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371017&Tpk=SG650

Since you have saved some money, wouldn't you want something a bit classier for a case?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811112168
There's good reasons to buy a Silverstone or Lian Li case. They are very well designed and very easy to work in. They have a level of craftmanship others do not have. They look like serious equipment, not kid's toys.

Or, you could just get this Antec 900 in combo with the PSU:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.197362

You'll want thermal paste:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835186020


You say you are a programmer. Are you coding for multiple cores and threads? If not this is all a waste of cash.
 
The 975 only has a slight clock speed advantage but is pretty much the same as the 965. The 975 can overclock better, on average, but your mileage may vary as the saying goes.

As for Windows 7 you can download the release candidate now and be one of Microsoft's little lab rats, uh I mean valued testers :D. The RC is free for now and will continue to work for a few months. Win 7 will be out late fall, or at least thats the plan.
 

mlcloud

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Ah the Apogee GTZ... beautiful waterblock...

+1 on the 920. There is absolutely no reason to buy a 975 or a 965 except for the epe..... *cough*

And man, although that Lian Li cases are expensive as h*ll, it's still a beautiful case with even more beautiful internal design... look at that cable management! Why couldn't they do that with the PoS NZXT zero 2 I got? I need some power tools to drill some damn cable-management holes into this thing.

But despite all that, I'm less inclined to spend more money than necessary. Because you're right, the difference between 1600 memory and 2000 mhz memory is marginal, so if you want to save a few hundred bucks:
OCZ Platinum 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (timings: 7-7-7-24) $105
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227381

Another Lian Li case a bit cheaper without any deal-breaking losses $189.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811112240

And does he really need a 3-way SLI/Crossfire motherboard? GA-EX58-UD4P $259.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128374

And the Antec Signatures are a beauty when it comes to efficiency. The 650w model is definitely a taker, but this performs very similarly (and thus better/worse at times) compared to the Antec Signature in terms of ripple, spikes, efficiency, vdroop... and with that kind of machine, you'll be hitting the 850hx sweet spot at 90% efficiency, so sure, you're not going to max out the PSU but it's still not a bad idea to invest money into it. PLUS THE DAMN THINGS MODULAR!! How do you get an efficient PSU with MODULAR cabling? Corsair just keeps doing more and more impressive things. I mean, Antec did a good job but wow!
Plus it has a bigger fan than Antec's. Quieter, more airflow, the works.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139011

Reviews of the Antec Signature and 850HX can be found at Jonnyguru@
http://www.jonnyguru.com/index.php

In the end though, it's up to you select "top of the line" or not for that extra tiny boost in performance. But... in my opinion, you don't get much out of your money past a certain point.
 
Dont spend the extra money on DDR3 2000 when 1600 will be more than enough.

Also if this is mostly going to be for compiling code you are likely better off with the new dual core phenom II and overclocking that as high as it will go as i doubt your code or your compiler will use more than 2 cores let alone 8 threads.

Also modular PSU's always have lower efficiencies because the modular connections add a fair bit of resistance reducing the overall efficiency of the unit so non-modular is better if you want to save money and 910 is overkill for almost all systems.
 

mlcloud

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hunter315, your first two advices are sound, and I agree with them until we hear whether our scientist friend here has optimized his codes for quad cores/8 threads.

However, you have just shown that while you have general knowledge of what modular cabling does to the efficiency of the PSUs, you also have shown that you have no specific knowledge about PSUs. The PSU you recommended our scientist friend get, as recommended by Proximon, IS ALSO MODULAR. Yet, you make it sound like it isn't, and so it sounds like you're specifically taking a bash at me. You also make it sound like the 850HX has terrible efficiency, showing that you have no clue what Corsair PSUs are capable of, while blindly supporting the Antec Signature 650w MODULAR Psu.

Get out. Read this
http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=Story&reid=153
And be amazed.

Jerk.
 
+1 for above suggestions...

Seeing you requirements and your budget, the only thing that strikes my mind is a Workstation with dual Xeons E5520 - 8 Physical cores and 16 logical cores - would cost about $760 and would easily outperform the i7 975...But setting up that server setup might be little difficult to get the right components...But if you can I would suggest this setup over that 975...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819117185
 
Sorry i did not double check proximon's power supply nor did i notice you had posted one i merely supported it on the basis of the 910 watt one being overkill, and the efficiency drop is only a couple of percent at most but if he is shooting for optimum efficiency non-modular will give him the best.

Its getting late and it seems i missed that entire paragraph in your post, my apologies.
 

mlcloud

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All good, apologies accepted with respect to the goodwill and the factual accuracy those sentences would have had in just about every other situation.

gkay09, if it was pure number crunching I'd kick him out to the servers/workstation department too, but he does want to game a bit which is why I haven't recommended it to him. Plus, I know nearly nothing about workstations anyway, otherwise I would've avoided this thread altogether. Now we're just waiting for our scientist friend to make his decision/ask more questions.
 

dave_74

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TY for responses...

1) Anyone have link/info (even anecdotes? :)) to compare some OC speeds of 920
vs. 975? I don't mind the extra cash if the 975 does get some reasonable advantage, like 15-20% more in OC speed.

http://www.cpubenchmark.net/overclocked_cpus.html

I see the overclocks on passmark for 975/965 systems are about 35% higher than on 920/950 systems. I don't know if thats due to 965/975 users more aggressively overclocking, better overall systems, etc. Or how much is due to the higher cpu series. Any insight appreciated to help me understand.

2) Yes, the program is custom, and capable of putting to work up to 8 cores on a given rig, so max computational speed of all cores under sustained full load will matter to me. Some parts of the program have to be executed as single thread, but thats roughly 10% of the workload.

Not much experience with workstations either, which is kinda why I've avoided them. Tried on friends quad core 965 non-OC'd and got good results. saw i7's posting similar passmark scores as skull trail rigs, so thought i'd build the i7. Guess my biggest thought is for the investment, would like to have a rig that can execute single-threads pretty fast as well.

3) Just noticed Windows7 beta is free till June 2010. Guess i'll save myself from buying vista (unless i hear some horror stories.). Need a 64 bit operating system, currently using xp-32bit on current rig.

4) Not much cost difference between P6T Deluxe vs Gigabte Extreme ($50 or so), does GB run cooler, more OC options? or u suggesting for the added graphics abilities?

5) thanks for the input on the powersupplies! I'll definitely switch to one that u guys recommended.

 

mlcloud

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dave_74, this is becoming more of a question about the depth of your wallet than it is the computational capability. Because some of us are more economy minded, some of us (or I'll... if I'm alone on this) will tell you that anything other than the 920 is not worth the cash that it demands. If the i7s were impossible to overclock, then the story might be different, but at overclocked speeds they perform so similarly...!! Especially since the release of the D0 stepping for the i7 920. If you want to pay for the extra 300 mhz you might be able to extract out of the higher-end i7s, then you're free to do so. There is no difference between i7 920 and i7 975 clock-to-clock (aka, same speeds), and the 975 will only have a marginally larger overclock potential than the 920. 300mhz worth half a grand? Up to you.

For the motherboard, either will be fine, except that the question of "is it worth it?" is still up for grabs, although the difference like between the 920 and 975 is much greater than this case. Will you reach 4ghz on either of those boards with a 920? Yes. Could one motherboard be the difference between reaching a 4.5ghz stable and not? Probably not. It'd be more chip-dependent over anything. You get a good i7 920, it'll work. If not, most of them reach 4ghz pretty safely.
 
Graphics cards:

Many programs will begin taking advantage of graphics cards for processing. Keep an eye on the programs you use in the future.

It is expected that many graphics cards will be 10x as efficient per watt.

Intel's Larrabee is also something to keep an eye on in 2010 when it's released.
 

dave_74

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Ty for help, u'r comments on processors got me reading some more articles, found got some more info on OC of 975 vs 920: In particular, this article was a good read:

http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2009/06/11/review_cpu_intel_core_i7_975_extreme/

the difference between the OC potential of 920 vs. 975 seems almost non-existent.
Guess i'll save $700ish
 

mlcloud

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I'm glad that's been settled. Keep asking questions about the motherboards and RAM and everything before you devote yourself!
 
@mcloud, I would agree with you as I just noticed that the OP has said that he would also want to game...
And as dave_74 has said above that his custom program would be capable of putting to work up to 8 cores on a given rig, the Dual E5520 rig, with 16 logical cores, might not be put to good use...And as the i7 are logical 8-core CPUs, 1 would be more than suffice...

And @dave_74 the i7 920 D0 stepping would be the best value compared to the i7 975 but when you compare the OC capabilities of both the CPUs, then the i7 975 would have the upper hand as it would be easier to OC as it has an unlocked multiplier and higher QPI...But ask yourself a question that whether a 400MHz additional OC and slight increase in o/p is worth the extra $650...

Check the SiSoftware Sandra Arithmetic benchmark...
The difference between the i7 920 and the i7 975 is noticeable but taking into account the clock speed difference, it makes sense...So once O/c to same speeds, it would perform if not better but very similar to the i7 975...
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/core-i7-975,2318-5.html

And for the RAM, if you want to o/c above 4GHz with water cooling(Which should be very much possible), then invest in good set of RAMs...the Mushkin that you have chosen is very good for this but even these can do...

mushkin 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 with CAS 6
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226050
Corsair Dominator - Dominator are just made for that - O/C...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145224

As for the case, here are other options...
CM Cosmos
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119138
LIAN LI PC-A70B
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811112141
Antec 1200
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129043

And many more...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=2000090007%201054808289&bop=And&ActiveSearchResult=True&CompareItemList=N82E16811129043%2CN82E16811119138%2CN82E16811119160%2CN82E16811119122%2CN82E16811163073%2CN82E16811119187
 



Exactly what I was thinking. Although I have heard it possible to game on some of those Nehalem Xeon boards.
 


See, and I got the same impression from Anandtech and at least two other sites. So I would like to hear a bit more about how 975 is actually superior, if anyone has links. I'm always open to more tests.
 

croc

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stumpystumped

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Not sure what program you are using to do the data crunching. I personally use Excel to do data crunching for both work and study. Excel is easy to deal with and can use multiple cores (I only have a dual core) when you are using Excel formulas instead of pure VBA. Instead of buying 1 powerful machine, I actually have several Core 2 Duos at my disposal and programmed the data crunching to allow multiple machines to work on it at once. That could be a much cheaper option then going for all top of the line hardware.
 

croc

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Uh, I can 'game' pretty fair on a dual xeon CAD system with a Quadro FX... FSX is really nice at 2500 x 1600. But the OP's primary concern (he says) is integer crunching of a DB. Different build from what I have, different purpose.
 

dave_74

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@croc and well the rest talking about workstations

As i said, i'm not a hardware guy, and i program as a side effect of my work.
I did not select a work station setup because the price of setting up a skull trail with 2 QX9775 or many similar processors seemed a bit much. Those processors are more expensive than even the 975s.

There are a few cheap processors, like the E5430 that u can put on a skulltrail and get some good performance. But then again, i looked at the passmark performance, not sure how good an indicator that is, but it showed OC'd i7 systems performing similar to dual skull trails. Moreover, from what i read skull trails suffer in performance unless your using all their cores. Would i be using all the cores? Most the time, but i'd be losing performance on the part of the program that can't be multithreaded (or so i thought). Not to mention, i'd be building a 1 trick pony in that if i wasn't using all (or most) the cores, i'd probably suffer performance wise.

I'm not trying to debate...i'm trying to learn what's best. If i'm wrong or u know some better setup for the money, plz be gracious about correcting me. And no, i'm not trying to troll u. I don't even know what the point would be in that.
 

croc

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Ah... Then we have a budget in mind? And do we now know what DB we will be using for this 'integer' data? Maybe just a bit more information might be helpful.

I just did a quickie price of a Dell dual core Xeon with 24GB ram, for under 7k AUD, pretty good graphics. And that's with one year 24 x 7 on-site support. (seeing as you are not really a hardware guy...)

I'm sure that I could build a better system, cheaper, but it would be nice to know what I'm building for. (Skulltrail my a$$...)