Possible new system for virtualization, gaming, rendering, and world domination

zir_blazer

Golden Member
Jun 6, 2013
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408
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A friend wants a new system and I have to make sure that the parts are right.


PLEASE when you POST threads asking for input on system builds tell us...

1. What YOUR PC will be used for. That means what types of tasks you'll be performing.
Virtualization, gaming and rendering duties, in both Windows and Linux. Its an all-around Workstation. Expect a possible PCI Passthrough user, so VT-d is a must.


2. What YOUR budget is. A price range is acceptable as long as it's not more than a 20% spread
Around 2000 U$D / 30000 Argentinian $


3. What country YOU will be buying YOUR parts from.
Argentina


4. IF you're buying parts OUTSIDE the US, please post a link to the vendor you'll be buying from.
We can't be expected to scour the internet on your behalf, chasing down deals in your specific country... Again, help us, help YOU.
Too many to count, really, since parts variety are limited and you must leap from vendor to vendor for every shining party you want. No generic price crawler exist for us as far that I know.


5. IF YOU have a brand preference. That means, are you an Intel-Fanboy, AMD-Fanboy, ATI-Fanboy, nVidia-Fanboy, Seagate-Fanboy, WD-Fanboy, etc.
I don't like ASUS, but there aren't lots of choices.


6. If YOU intend on using any of YOUR current parts, and if so, what those parts are.
For the moment, Mouse, Keyboard, Headphones, Monitor


7. IF YOU plan on overclocking or run the system at default speeds.
Not really needed, stability comes first. Overclocking is only an after thorough for when everything else is account for and if the picked Hardware allows it


8. What resolution, not monitor size, will you be using?
Whatever the intended GeForce GTX 980 can cope with


9. WHEN do you plan to build it?
As soon as all parts are decided



There are 3 platform choices, and a wide range of options, pros and cons. Not an easy choice to make. They are these:

LGA 1150 (Haswell)
Consumer: Core i7 4790K / Z97 Motherboard / DDR3 Unbuffered 4 * 8 GB (32 GB)
Workstation: Xeon E3-1246V3 / C226 Motherboard / DDR3 Unbuffered + ECC 4 * 8 GB (32 GB)
LGA 1151 (Skylake)
Consumer: Core i7 6700K / Z170 Motherboard / DDR4 Unbuffered 4 * 8 GB (32 GB)
Workstation: Xeon E3-1245V5 / C236 Motherboard / DDR4 Unbuffered + ECC 4 * 8 GB (32 GB)
LGA 2011-3 (Haswell-E)
Consumer: Core i7 5820K / X99 Motherboard / DDR4 Unbuffered 4 * 8 GB (32 GB)
Workstation: Xeon E5-1620V3 / C612 Motherboard / DDR4 Unbuffered OR Registered + ECC 4 * 8 GB (32 GB)


First point, which is rather important:
The computer is intended to go with an Intel 750 PCIe SSD. I'm intending to use it in a PCIe Slot attached to the Processor instead of the Chipset, which on Haswell platform is rather mandatory for performance, but not so much on Skylake (It should still be better since it is one hop less). It still doesn't convinces me since the SSD is capable of taking half of the DMI 3.0 link all by itself (You can read my rant about the Skylake platform here).
In order to do this, the Z Chipsets are needed since the idea is to be able to split the Processor's 16x lanes into 8x/8x or 8x/4x/4x for the Video Card and a Intel 750 PCIe SSD. However, the budget allows for a Z Chipset Motherbord anyways, so this is redundant.
Obviously there is going to be a Video Card, and maybe at some point two. Since SLI needs 8x/8x to work, in Skylake platform, the SSD would have to be moved eventually to a Chipset PCIe Slot if that happens. On Haswell it would absolutely be PCIe 2.0 and DMI bottlenecked.


Second point:
The platform of choice was initially Skylake. Haswell is there just for reference, but it should defeat Skylake in price-performance. Haswell-E looks even more nice than Skylake since its offer a lot of more features for around the same price.
The main issue is that there isn't stock of LGA 2011-3 parts, and the few ones I found are ridiculous expensive. But based on previous prices, the Core i7 5820K was substantially cheaper than the Core i7 6700K since it had a hefty price premium attached because it was new. Since local stock of high end Haswells and Haswell-E is very limited, it seems like Skylake is the only thing I could purchase for a high end build at this very moment.
A thing which I'm extremely unhappy with is that if I purchase a Skylake now, I would be missing the SGX extensions, regardless if they would be used or not. It would take no less than a month for the SGX enabled Skylakes to appear in the market, and even more time to get one here, but the purchase can't be delayed.


Third point:
Haswell-E has some decisive advantages against Skylake. One of them is the PCIe Lane count. While the Ci7 5820K is handicapped to just 28 (ALL other LGA 2011-3 models have 40), is better than what Haswell or Skylake can do, since it can be used for 16x/8x/4x and fits SLI and the SSD with no issues.
Haswell-E has an ace under its sleeve: Its supports PCIe ACS (Access Control Services). The short explanation is that PCIe allows for peer-to-peer transfers, which is nice on paper, but the traffic can potentially skip the IOMMU if you're doing Passthrough. This means that a card that is assigned to a VM, could talk to a card assigned to another one. Since they're not perfectly isolated, this could potentially lead to data corruption scenarios, that is risky with a PCIe SSD. ACS guarantess that all traffic goes through the IOMMU, which is something than the PCIe Controller of the Processor in consumer paltforms (Haswell/Skylake) is missing.
How this works in practice? VFIO makes "IOMMU Groups", which is a sort of way to determine isolation granularity, since multiple devices in one group aren't isolated between them. On LGA 1155/1150/1151, ALL stuff connected to the Processor PCIe Controller (Max 3 slots in 8x/4x/4x, could be 2 Video Cards and 1 PCIe SSD) gets into the same IOMMU Group. VFIO allows you to do Passthrough of either one, multiple, or all devices in a group, but they need to go to the same VM or remain unassigned (So neither host nor VM uses it). This security measure can be workarounded and bypassed, but its not ideal. How many chances are that something catastrophic happens? No one knows for sure, maybe its merely a formality like ECC RAM, just in case. But the correct way to do things is easier to do with ACS since I don't have to patch or workaround anything.
THIS, over all other things, is what bends everything in Haswell-E favour. 6 Cores are also better for virtualization purposes and rendering. Bad thing is that Haswell-E is missing the integrated GPU so there will be no XenGT/KVMGT/Intel GVT-g, and that in Single Threading and gaming it will be like 15% slower than the Ci7 6700K.


Fourth point:
While I give a choice of either consumer or Workstation platforms with Xeons, the latter are pretty much impossible since I would need to import the Processor, Motherboard and ECC RAM, and my friend had bad experiences when he needed to make a RMA, so he doesn't want to do that.
Main difference between the consumer and Workstation platforms is that on Xeons you can't overclock, but they can have some Server-related features that could be useful (Besides ECC RAM support, IPMI or vPro for Remote Management, less Firmware quircks, etc). I would say that there is more of an inclination for a rock solid 24/7 system that would mean that Workstation parts are a better bet, so even if he can overclock I think he would be rather conservative with it anyways.
The bad thing of Skylake generation is that you can't simply plug a Xeon E3 V5 on a consumer Motherboard like you could with E3 V3, since Intel restricted the new ones for C Series Chipsets. But chances are that if I had access to Newegg or Amazon, I would purchase the full Workstation package with Processor, Motherboard and ECC RAM anyways.
I'l mention specifically the Xeon E5-1620V3. Its 100 U$D cheaper than the Ci7 5820K, and even if its just Quad Core, its price and specs fall around the level of the Core i7 4790 or Xeon E3 1241V3, so does performance. Even if you can't overclock it, the three things that make it extremely interesing is that it is among the cheapest LGA 2011-3 Processors, it supports the full DDR4 RAM spectrum (Registered and ECC), and has the full 40 PCIe Lanes. So its basically a Haswell with a lot of I/O. Its sadly missing the integrated GPU.


PROCESSORS
LGA 1150
Intel Core i7 4790K - 5650$ (No stock)
Intel Xeon E3-1246V3
LGA 1151
Intel Core i7 6700
Intel Core i7 6700K - 6500$
Intel Xeon E3-1245V5
LGA 2011-3
Intel Core i7 5820K - 5200$ (No stock) / 8100$
Intel Xeon E5-1620V3

One among those 7, based on the previous platforms considerations.
The 5820K is surprisingly cheap, and since the build is Haswell-E platform friendly would have been an excellent choice, but its not on stock any longer, and I don't know if there is a vendor from which I can still buy it at reasonable prices.


MOTHERBOARDS
LGA 1151
ASUS Z170-A - 3180$
ASUS Z170 PRO GAMING - 3200$
LGA 2011-3
Gigabyte GA-X99-UD4 (Rev 1.0/1.1) - 4705$
Gigabyte GA-X99-Gaming 5 (Rev 1.0) - 5325$
ASUS X99-A - 5750$

I had to check the Z170-A and ASUS Z170 PRO GAMING Manual since things are not clear enough. Apparently, they have three PCIe 16x slots, two of which can work 8x/8x from the Processor PCIe Lanes and the third one which is a 4x connected to the Chipset. This means that it could fit the SLI and PCIe SSD requeriments.
I also looked around for LGA 2011-3 based Motherboards. The Gigabyte GA-X99-UD4 is rather cheap, but discarded since rather bad Newegg comments about it. And while I don't like ASUS, the X99-A looks decent enough based on Reviews. Only thing I don't confirmed was VT-d support, something that I don't trust ASUS with. There was a guy reporting issues with Xen, but it seems to be something else, and I would be surprised if it didn't worked since other ASUS X99 Motherboards got it right.


DDR4 Memory Modules
2 * 8 GB (Dual Channel Kit) / Unbuffered, no ECC
GSkill Ripjaws V F4-2133C15D-16GVR / 2133 MHz / 15-15-15-35 2N / 1.2V - 2300$ * 2
GSkill Ripjaws V F4-2400C15D-16GVR / 2400 MHz / 15-15-15-35 2N / 1.2V - 2500$ * 2
GSkill Ripjaws V F4-2666C15D-16GVR / 2666 MHz / 15-15-15-35 2N / 1.2V - 2930$ * 2
GSkill Ripjaws V F4-3000C15D-16GVRB / 3000 MHz / 15-16-16-35 2N / 1.35V - 3100$ * 2
GSkill Ripjaws V F4-3000C15D-16GVR / 3000 MHz / 15-15-15-35 2N / 1.35V - 3100$ * 2 (No stock)
GSkill Ripjaws V F4-3200C16D-16GVKB / 3200 MHz / 16-18-18-38 2N / 1.35V - 3150$ * 2
GSkill Ripjaws V F4-3200C16D-16GVK / 3200 MHz / 16-16-16-36 2N / 1.35V - 3269$ * 2 (No stock)
Corsair Vengeance CMK16GX4M2B3200C16 / 3200 MHz / 16-18-18-36 / 1.35V - 3269$ * 2
4 * 8 GB (Quad Channel Kit) / Unbuffered, no ECC
GSkill Ripjaws 4 F4-2133C15Q-32GRB / 2133 MHz / 15-15-15-35 2N / 1.2V - 6000$

My friend wanted 2666 MHz, but since the price difference between those and the 3000 MHz ones is little (Compare that to the 2400-to-2666 jump), I prefer these agressively binned and overvolted 3000 MHz modules then running them at 2666 1.2V.


STORAGE
SATA SSD
Samsung 850 EVO 250 GB MZ-75E250B/AM - 2015$
Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB MZ-75E500B/AM - 3750$
PCIe SSD
Intel 750 / 400 GB / PCIe 4x AIC - 7900$

Motherboard needs to support NVMe Boot for the Intel 750, which all the post-Z97 Motherboards should do.
Samsungs 850 EVO are there for reference, but for the price could be a rather good option. However, there was a recent bug with TRIM causing data corruption in Linux with the Samsung SSDs, so I trust Intel a lot more on that.


HEATSINKS
AIR COOLING
Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO - 1000$
WATER COOLING AIO
Corsair Hydro Series H60 CW-9060007-WW - 1450$
Corsair Hydro Series H80i GT CW-9060017-WW - 1950$
Corsair Hydro Series H100i GTX Extreme CW-9060021-WW - 2200$

Chances are that its the Hyper 212 EVO, just for simplicity. Didn't checked what I need specifically for the WC AIOs (Bigger Case?), nor if the performance is worth the extra cost.


POWER SUPPLIES
EVGA 600B Bronze 600W 100-B1-0600-KR - 1550$
XFX TS550 550W P1-550S-XXB9 - 1700$
NZXT HALE82 V2 550W NP-1BM-0550A - 1600$
NZXT HALE82 V2 700W NP-1BM-0700A - 2050$
Thermaltake Smart 550W SP-550P - 1300$
Thermaltake Smart 650W SP-650P - 1500$
Thermaltake Smart 650W SP-650M - 2000$
Corsair CX 500W CX500M CP-9020059-NA - 1350$ (No stock)
Corsair CX 600W CX600M CP-9020060-NA - 1650$ (No stock)
Corsair CX 750W CX750M CP-9020061-NA - 1970$ (No stock)
Corsair CX 850W CX850M CP-9020099-NA - 2400$ (No stock)
Corsair CS 650W CS650M CP-9020077 - 2100$ (No stock)
Corsair CS 750W CS750M CP-9020078-NA - 2400$ (No stock)
Seasonic M12II-620 - 2000$
Seasonic M12II-620 EVO - 2400$

I don't like Thermaltake as a brand since the TR2 line sucks, is rather expensive, yet somehow a best seller here. The Smart line is there for reference.
Seasonic should be the best choice, but the brand carries a price premium, and I'm not convinced if there aren't better options for the money. But I think I should get them while stock lasts...


VIDEO CARDS
***TO DO***

ASUS Strix GeForce GTX 980 STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5 - 11800$
Zotac GeForce GTX 980 Ti ArcticStorm ZT-90502-10P - 16000$

A GeForce 980/980Ti is expected for this build. The vendor that I usually look for the lowest prices doesn't have them in stock anymore. Not a lot of variety left to choose from, either.


CASES
***TO DO***

XigmaTek Alfar USB 3.0 - 1100$

My friend choice for aesthetics reasons.


That pretty much most of what I can get from the vendors I know. If you know any specific part that could be better (Or assurance than the available ones are "good enough"), I could provide the part list to my friend.
 
Last edited:

zir_blazer

Golden Member
Jun 6, 2013
1,165
408
136
*BUMP*

Rewritted the introduction about the platform choices, added more components.


Its sad I can't get LGA 2011-3 parts without having to sell my kidney, since this build scream Haswell-E all over the place.