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Opinions on Best CPU for VMware Workstation

Johnny Ringo

Junior Member
Dec 6, 2012
10
0
66
#1
Hi,
Long time lurker (since late 1990's), but first time poster. I currently have a Phenom II 720 x3 (overclocked to 3.2 ghz and unlocked to an x4) on a Biostar motherboard, as my main rig, using the onboard video (no games). It is primarily used for typical usage (web browsing, office apps) and running multiple virtual workstations in VMware Workstation 9, running various flavors of Linux, Windows Server, and Windows desktop OS's for testing. I have 2 Samsung 128GB 830 SSD's (one for the OS (Windows 7), and one SSD just for virtual machine .vmdk files), and 3 Western Digital Black 1TB Hard drives for storing my general data on.

My current PC does everything I could ask of it and is certainly not taxed with the current load, with the exception of it not having SATA III (could purchase a SATA3 card?), and supporting DDR3. (Current board is maxed out with (4x2) 8GB of DDR2), and purchasing DDR2 is cost prohibitive. For the cost of buying a solid SATA3 card, and additional DDR2 would be in the same ballpark as a new CPU/motherboard and DDR3 RAM.

I have already purchased 16GB of DDR3 that I picked up at Microcenter on sale, so all I need is a CPU/Motherboard with onboard video (power savings, as the PC runs 24x7).

I have been an AMD supporter over the years--but I am open to an Intel setup, if the price is right. I have always bought the best bang for the buck setups, and not neccessarily the fastest, as I don't game on the PC and need the latest/greatest. (I have an Xbox 360 for that).
I am looking for some advice on what would be signifigantly faster than what I have, saves on power, and will allow me to utilize the 16GB of RAM for running multiple VM's and allocating additional memory over the current 8GB I have.

I am open to overclocking (have been overclocking since the Celeron 300a days), as that has always provided the best bang for the buck--but most CPU's today are already plenty fast in stock format.

I am just not sure if I am wasting my money to upgrade what I have (which is adequate...I just know that I am limiting my speeds with SATA II), just to get a faster thruput with SATA III, and the extra 8GB of RAM to go to 16GB?

Thoughts, opinions???

John
 

nomadicspirit

Junior Member
Nov 20, 2012
11
0
0
#2
With your needs not being dependent on gaming but on multiple vmware sessions, it is definitely possible to lax on some specs and get the budget system going, depends on what you want to spend, Intel is usually a bit more pricey and being an AMD guy usually I would say for a CHEAP system with some onboard graphics you could jump into something like the AMD APU:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819103942

and a mainboard that isnt the cheapest you can get but with some more advanced features that will support that processor:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813157339

Both of which put you are 200 dollars for a decent, as far as workstations go, setup.

Just my opinion, you might want to research and dive into some Intel, but my opinion is VERY AMD biased. I am always on a budget!
 

Johnny Ringo

Junior Member
Dec 6, 2012
10
0
66
#3
Thanks for the suggestions.

$200-$250 is certainly within my budget. I only want to buy, if it is going to be a signifigant upgrade. I have been looking at an Intel I5 2500k, as well as AMD based products. (Somebody has to support AMD for the greater good of the CPU world).

I checked on Anandtech's benchmarks, and the A8 3850 is slower than what I currently have in most tests, and slightly faster in others. (I do have an A8 Llano based laptop with a Samsung SSD that is perfect for my mobile needs)

My 720 Black Edition CPU essentially is the same as a Phenom II 955 since I unlocked it to 4 cores, and it has 6MB of cache. (since I am overclocking to 3.2 ghz, and could go higher, but I want to stay at default voltage)

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/399?vs=88

Am I overthinking things, and should just stay with what I have, and deal with the limitations of 8GB of RAM? Or buy a cheap $20 SATA 3 card and call it a day for the next year, until prices fall, and speeds increase?

I only paid $35 for the 16GB of DDR3 RAM...so I can hold onto that until I do have a upgrade path that is significantly faster but does not cost more than $250.
 

Hitman928

Golden Member
Apr 15, 2012
1,548
6
136
#4
Do you find yourself needing more cores for your VM's? I certainly would if only using a quad core, but that might not be your case. Usually, if running multiple VM's, the more cores the merrier. Also, what kind of processing power do you need as far as core performance goes?

An intel core i7 2600k would give you (basically) 8 cores, 4 logical and 4 physical, but should perform quite well assuming you're not trying to load all 8 'cores' at 100%. You could probably find a used 2600k for cheaper than a new Ivy Bridge i7, both of which can easily be overclocked to give added performance.

On the AMD side, an FX8320 would give you 8 physical cores but each core wouldn't perform quite as well as the 2600k (unless trying to load them all simultaneously). These are excellent bang for your buck chips and can very easily be overclocked to 8350 speeds or higher. With the added memory and an overall faster processor with more cores, it would probably be a nice upgrade for your needs without costing too much. Downside is that it will use more energy than the top intel processors.

If you don't think you need 8 cores, I would suggest the FX63xx line of processors. You'd still be adding 2 cores, more money, a little extra processing power (can be significant if overclocked which it can easily do) for not much added cost. If all you want is four cores and you want the most performance you can out of those cores, an intel i5 2500k would be a good way to go.

Lastly, I haven't done much of on board video myself, but I've heard that intel has better motherboard solutions with on board video than current AM3+ motherboards. Maybe others have more experience here to help you.
 
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bononos

Diamond Member
Aug 21, 2011
3,608
1
91
#5
"Somebody has to support AMD for the greater good of the CPU world"
:D
Get a Piledriver cpu then, AMD has slashed the prices alot. An 8 core 8320 is only $170 before any specials/rebates.

.....

Lastly, I haven't done much of on board video myself, but I've heard that intel has better motherboard solutions with on board video than current AM3+ motherboards. Maybe others have more experience here to help you.
On current builds, Intel cpus have integrated graphics so the mbs don't have them. For AMD Trinity/Llano cpus which do have integrated graphics, their graphics engine is faster than Intels.
 

nomadicspirit

Junior Member
Nov 20, 2012
11
0
0
#6
From what I have seen in my last couple builds for Trinity (some low end non-gaming stuff) it far surpassed Intel graphics, but we are not talking graphics. If the budget will support, of course go with the Intel, or AMD fanboy it and hit up an FX processor. You already have the RAM, why let perfectly good parts sit there? :D I have seen some decent performance out of the new Vishera CPUs and some OC'ing from them as well, and bononos is definitely right, they slashed the prices on those things, they are budget style for sure, I am even waiting to throw one in a setup here soon. Your VMware would benefit from the cores as well.
 

Hitman928

Golden Member
Apr 15, 2012
1,548
6
136
#7
On current builds, Intel cpus have integrated graphics so the mbs don't have them. For AMD Trinity/Llano cpus which do have integrated graphics, their graphics engine is faster than Intels.
Yes, but since he has stated that graphics aren't really that important, I was more referring to the motherboards themselves, not really the graphics chip on them (or the cpu). From what I understand, the AM3+ boards with integrated graphics leave something to be desired (in the overall platform). Again, this is just what I've heard, I don't have experience with them.

Granted, you could probably go for a very cheap $20 low profile card and still come out cheaper with an AMD solution if he wants to go that way.
 
Oct 5, 2012
88
0
0
#8
You are going to need at least an i5 Quad or better to see any real gains over your Phenom 2 quad and an apu will just be far too slow even compared to what you are using now. For hosting VMs you want a good core/thread count so maybe if you are willing to burn a little more than you want then a i7 or a 8350 would be all that you need. If you go AM3+ you might need to pick up a cheap graphics card as the newer AM3 chipsets lack an IGP. Performance wise I would go for the i7 but when running lots of VMs especially at once Intel's Hyper threading doesn't really cut the mustard compared to true cores.
 

Ferzerp

Diamond Member
Oct 12, 1999
6,425
0
106
#9
I always love random consumers trying to make suggestions for virtualization ;)
 

Madpacket

Platinum Member
Nov 15, 2005
2,068
0
126
#10
You just need more RAM. Pick up a cheap AM3+ for your 16GB DDR3 RAM. Keep your 720 X3 for now. If you really you don't find that adequate you can always pick up a 6 or 8 core Piledriver.

--



Hi,
Long time lurker (since late 1990's), but first time poster. I currently have a Phenom II 720 x3 (overclocked to 3.2 ghz and unlocked to an x4) on a Biostar motherboard, as my main rig, using the onboard video (no games). It is primarily used for typical usage (web browsing, office apps) and running multiple virtual workstations in VMware Workstation 9, running various flavors of Linux, Windows Server, and Windows desktop OS's for testing. I have 2 Samsung 128GB 830 SSD's (one for the OS (Windows 7), and one SSD just for virtual machine .vmdk files), and 3 Western Digital Black 1TB Hard drives for storing my general data on.

My current PC does everything I could ask of it and is certainly not taxed with the current load, with the exception of it not having SATA III (could purchase a SATA3 card?), and supporting DDR3. (Current board is maxed out with (4x2) 8GB of DDR2), and purchasing DDR2 is cost prohibitive. For the cost of buying a solid SATA3 card, and additional DDR2 would be in the same ballpark as a new CPU/motherboard and DDR3 RAM.

I have already purchased 16GB of DDR3 that I picked up at Microcenter on sale, so all I need is a CPU/Motherboard with onboard video (power savings, as the PC runs 24x7).

I have been an AMD supporter over the years--but I am open to an Intel setup, if the price is right. I have always bought the best bang for the buck setups, and not neccessarily the fastest, as I don't game on the PC and need the latest/greatest. (I have an Xbox 360 for that).
I am looking for some advice on what would be signifigantly faster than what I have, saves on power, and will allow me to utilize the 16GB of RAM for running multiple VM's and allocating additional memory over the current 8GB I have.

I am open to overclocking (have been overclocking since the Celeron 300a days), as that has always provided the best bang for the buck--but most CPU's today are already plenty fast in stock format.

I am just not sure if I am wasting my money to upgrade what I have (which is adequate...I just know that I am limiting my speeds with SATA II), just to get a faster thruput with SATA III, and the extra 8GB of RAM to go to 16GB?

Thoughts, opinions???

John
 
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Johnny Ringo

Junior Member
Dec 6, 2012
10
0
66
#11
Thanks for all of the suggestions!

I have had my eye on an Intel I5 series (K series) (just missed out on the $99 Microcenter deal!), as I have not had an Intel processor since a Pentium III 700 ten plus years ago. Reading for years now about how much faster the Intel processors are has made me curious. But the thoughts of a 6 or 8 core FX series also makes alot of sense--especially for value, and my current/future needs.

Honestly though I never feel CPU bound with my current setup. But I do feel the pinch for needing more RAM at times. (I set the VM's with lower memory to keep within my 8GB footprint, or just be mindful for how many VM's I have open, and adjust the memory on each VM accordingly to keep under 8GB.)

Like most people, I am value conscious, and I am trying to not waste money if it is only going to be a marginal upgrade. This machine is almost 4 years old, and despite not having support for DDR3, and SATA3--it does anything and everything that I ask of it. If I could pop 16GB of DDR2 in at the same price that 16GB of DDR3 costs, it would probably last for several more years.

If I went with an AM3+ solution, and reused my current CPU (and upgrade the CPU to a FX series chip when prices drop further)...any good recomendations? I am guessing that I would need a cheap video card as well. Any suggestions there?

I can wait a few months, as well, if there is something on the horizon from Intel--or will cause current Intel prices to drop.
 

Ancalagon44

Diamond Member
Feb 17, 2010
3,272
0
106
#12
What format is your DDR3 in? 4 x 4 or 8 x 2? EDIT: You can add another 8 x 2, if you already bought 8 x 2, for future proofing.

If I were you, I'd probably decide how much money I feel comfortable spending, and take it from there.

Your cheapest upgrade is probably an AM3+ mobo and a cheap graphics card, if the AM3+ does not have integrated (I'm not up to date with whether they do anymore). Also just make sure of CPU compatibility, should work but never hurts to check.

With a little more money, an 8350 would also be nice to have. Should get you a 1.5x to 2x speed up depending on what you are doing and how you load the cores (wild estimate of course).

Or see if you can get an old Thuban CPU. Second hand even? If you can find one, they should be dirt cheap. That could actually end up being better than an 8350 for your needs, especially considering price and overclockability.

Mind you, if you are considering an AM3+ mobo, graphics card, and 8350, you might as well check out Intel benchmarks to see if its really worth it. I mean, maybe an i5 is just that much faster that it becomes worth it.

If you have even more money than that would require, then get an i7.
If money is less of an object, get an i7. I'm not sur
 

NTMBK

Diamond Member
Nov 14, 2011
8,053
28
126
#13
I vote just pick up an AM3+ motherboard- look for one with core unlocking. You might luck out and turn that 3-core into a 4-core. Even if you don't, you'll get the DDR3 and SATAIII you want. Then you can upgrade to a Piledriver later on (or Steamroller, if they ever actually come out).
 

Johnny Ringo

Junior Member
Dec 6, 2012
10
0
66
#14
It sounds like an AM3+ motherboard with 32GB support, and core unlocking (I am currently unlocked on my Biostar AM2+ board, so I know the processor is a full blown X4 (I have 16GB (2 x 8GB) of DDR3 that I picked up 2 weeks ago) is the best value/lowest entry cost, and will give me the ability to upgrade to a Piledriver/Steamroller at a later date (when costs drop even further).

Looking at the benchmarks the FX 8350, or the FX 8320 overclocked will give me a very considerable jump in multi-threaded benchmarks--which would help considerably with running multiple VM sessions. Although I don't think I am CPU bound at the moment (or it does not seem so)--but I also have not toyed with a new processor in almost 4 years--so I might be missing quite a bit in performance that I just don't know I am missing.

Bummer though! I am really curious to how an Intel I5 2500k would perform with my workload. The benchmarks indicate that it should be close to even with a FX 6300...and slower than a FX8320/FX8350.
 

wpcoe

Senior member
Nov 13, 2007
586
0
81
#15
FWIW, a SATA3 add-in card is probably not worth the $20 you mentioned. On my last build on an Intel P55 mobo with only SATA2, the performance of my SSD on the chipset SATA2 was the same as on the PCIe SATA3 card I bought for about $20.

The bottleneck is that the cheap add-in cards are PCIe 1x, and that bottlenecks data throughput. To see an improvement on throughput, you need to be looking at the cards that are in the $100+ price range.
 
Oct 10, 1999
24,061
47
126
#16
Less expensive: I'd get a motherboard that supports 32GB of ram, and then either an AMD 8 core CPU, or an Intel I7.

More expensive: I'd go with a proper server board dual cpu socket, either Xeon or Opteron, with support for at least 128GB of ram.

Other option, buy a used server from geeks.com
Often they have dual socket 2x quad core CPU servers with 8 or 16GB of FB Dram for under $300.
 

kmmatney

Diamond Member
Jun 19, 2000
4,362
0
81
#17
I use a lot of VMs with my work laptop, which is a Core i7 with 8GB of RAM, and 2 x 256GB Samsung 830 SSDs. I can easily (and sometimes do) run 3 VMs at once, although my VMs are usually stripped down versions of WinXP so the load is not too bad. I had no trouble running Windows 8 in a VM, though. I can say a Core i7 is really nice, and VMs really fly. I can't imagine you'd need more than 16GB of RAM.

I was in the same boat as you with my home computer. I recently upgraded from a quad core Phenom II (dual-core unlocked to 4 cores) to a 3570K. I wanted more memory but both my slots were filled with 2x2 GB DDR2, so decided to take the plunge to Intel. Benchmarks sure run faster with the 3570K, but I can't say I notice a big difference while running VMs, or other real-life usage. I can't really say games play that much better either, since I'm probably GPU limited. Things might be a little smoother overall, but I'm not wowed.

So having done the upgrade you are thinking about, I'm not sure it's worth the cost. I'd consider getting a $99 AMD Hex-core CPU + MB deal at Microcenter, and finding a good deal on 2 x 8 GB memory sticks.
 

Johnny Ringo

Junior Member
Dec 6, 2012
10
0
66
#18
Thank you for the feedback about the i3570, and your general feeling about going from a Phenom II x4 to an Intel i5 setup.

I was curious if the real world user experience (in the types of things that I do) shows up in day to day tasks that are night and day, versus the benchmarks that are clearly in Intel's favor.

Since your workload is very similar to mine, it appears that there are only slight differences that are not worth spending $250+ on, when I can upgrade my motherboard for under $100 to an AM3+ socket, keep my current Phenom II x4, add 16GB of RAM (that I already bought). I can always upgrade to a x6 or x8 Piledriver cpu at a later date when prices drop some more.
 

blckgrffn

Diamond Member
May 1, 2003
6,649
0
76
www.teamjuchems.com
#19
I think folks get a little overboard on sizing hardware for VMs :)

VMs are super-dee-duper good at sharing CPUs. Think about it - all software is pretty decent at waiting for CPU cycles. Things might get slow, but crap works.

You need as much ram as you are allocating to VMs +-2GB for your host OS when doing desktop vt. Server 2008 R2 runs just fine with 768-1GB of ram depending on how many roles you add. Linux also scales nicely so long as you stay on the server distro side.

You cannot have enough fast disk though - 99% of the time that your VMs are sluggish is because they are stalled on IO and software isn't good at handling extreme IO wait times. Using a good SSD is going to really help out your VM density. A dual core w/8GB of ram should be able to run 4-5 vms easily with a good storage selection.

FWIW, I ran 16 server 2008 R2 VMs with 16GB of ram and a Thuban x6 with zero issues since they were using some cheap SSDs - 2x128GB disks. The students even built the OS all at the same time, and all installs were done in ~15 minutes. This beat the hell out of the i5 iMacs they each had with Virtual Box for performance. 1x PC with SSDs was better than 16x iMacs w/spinning drives for VM performance.

VM density requires fast disk and enough ram. CPU is important only after those two have been addressed.

Within reason, of course :)
 
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Johnny Ringo

Junior Member
Dec 6, 2012
10
0
66
#20
FWIW, a SATA3 add-in card is probably not worth the $20 you mentioned. On my last build on an Intel P55 mobo with only SATA2, the performance of my SSD on the chipset SATA2 was the same as on the PCIe SATA3 card I bought for about $20.

The bottleneck is that the cheap add-in cards are PCIe 1x, and that bottlenecks data throughput. To see an improvement on throughput, you need to be looking at the cards that are in the $100+ price range.

Thanks for the feedback. My brother has a SATA 3 card that he picked up on Amazon for around $16, and a SATA 3 cable for a few extra $ (keeping him around $20) that is faster than my native SATA 2 benchmarks by about 100 MBs per second, but is not giving him true SATA 3 speeds which should be closer to an additional 200-250 MBs per second over my current thruput (which should be close to double my current thruput).
 

blckgrffn

Diamond Member
May 1, 2003
6,649
0
76
www.teamjuchems.com
#21
Thanks for the feedback. My brother has a SATA 3 card that he picked up on Amazon for around $16, and a SATA 3 cable for a few extra $ (keeping him around $20) that is faster than my native SATA 2 benchmarks by about 100 MBs per second, but is not giving him true SATA 3 speeds which should be closer to an additional 200-250 MBs per second over my current thruput (which should be close to double my current thruput).
Throughput is immaterial (ie, SATA2 vs SATA3). VMs need IOPs. Save the money, buy a bigger/better SSD.
 
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Ketchup

Elite Member
Sep 1, 2002
14,288
3
106
#22
Thank you for the feedback about the i3570, and your general feeling about going from a Phenom II x4 to an Intel i5 setup.

I was curious if the real world user experience (in the types of things that I do) shows up in day to day tasks that are night and day, versus the benchmarks that are clearly in Intel's favor.

Since your workload is very similar to mine, it appears that there are only slight differences that are not worth spending $250+ on, when I can upgrade my motherboard for under $100 to an AM3+ socket, keep my current Phenom II x4, add 16GB of RAM (that I already bought). I can always upgrade to a x6 or x8 Piledriver cpu at a later date when prices drop some more.
Sounds like a good move to me. Those 8-core AMD's would be tempting if I was in your shoes, but a nice memory boost would do wonders for your setup. I see you have the hard drive sitution well in hand.

I run 2 vm's on my laptop at work, and they run ok, but I will be glad when my new Thinkpad comes in with 8 GB of RAM. The best thing I did for my VMs, at this point, is giving them their own partitions.
 

wpcoe

Senior member
Nov 13, 2007
586
0
81
#23
Thanks for the feedback. My brother has a SATA 3 card that he picked up on Amazon for around $16, and a SATA 3 cable for a few extra $ (keeping him around $20) that is faster than my native SATA 2 benchmarks by about 100 MBs per second, but is not giving him true SATA 3 speeds which should be closer to an additional 200-250 MBs per second over my current thruput (which should be close to double my current thruput).
Back when I was using the SATA-3 card (an Orico PAS3062-2S, with an Asmedia chipset) -- I even put it in the PCIe 16x slot on my P55 motherboard:

as_ssd.001.png


I guess I also saw a benchmark +100MBps using AS SSD, but in actual use didn't notice any difference. Note that AS SSD uses some sort of weighted scoring system -- perhaps to emphasize 4K performance? -- and the final overall score was only about 5% higher on the PCIe card.

I ended up removing the card. It added to an already too-long (for an impatient me) boot time, as the Asmedia controller needed to run a POST routine as well. This was with a 120GB Intel 520 SSD.
 

tweakboy

Diamond Member
Jan 3, 2010
9,518
0
81
www.hammiestudios.com
#24
Something with lots of cores. AMD FX-8350 or Sandy E 3930k 6 core 12 threads.

If you have the money grab the 3930k, if you dont have the money grab the 8350. gl
 

Johnny Ringo

Junior Member
Dec 6, 2012
10
0
66
#25
Back when I was using the SATA-3 card (an Orico PAS3062-2S, with an Asmedia chipset) -- I even put it in the PCIe 16x slot on my P55 motherboard:

as_ssd.001.png


I guess I also saw a benchmark +100MBps using AS SSD, but in actual use didn't notice any difference. Note that AS SSD uses some sort of weighted scoring system -- perhaps to emphasize 4K performance? -- and the final overall score was only about 5% higher on the PCIe card.

I ended up removing the card. It added to an already too-long (for an impatient me) boot time, as the Asmedia controller needed to run a POST routine as well. This was with a 120GB Intel 520 SSD.

Wow! Thank you for providing your benchmarks! They help clear things up quite a bit. Without a high $$$ SATA 3 card, or a motherboard with native SATA 3 controller, it is not noticeable in day to day tasks.

Your benchmarks are almost a mirror of what I have been seeing on my SATA 2 speeds on a SAMSUNG 830 128GB drive, and that of a SATA 3 card with a SAMSUNG 830 128GB drive in my brothers PC. (He has the exact same motherboard/CPU/RAM, as we built the machines together almost 4 years ago, and ordered identical parts). We upgraded the OS drives to Samsung SSD's several months back...and again ordered the same parts. The only exception is that he is running a SATA 3 card for his Samsung SSD.
 

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