TechSpot

Building an Affordable 16-Core, 32-Thread Xeon Monster PC

By Steve
Nov 3, 2016
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  1. Originally released in 2012 for a whopping $1,550, the Xeon E5-2670 is attracting tons of interest among PC enthusiasts. This four-year old CPU delivers 8-cores clocked at 2.6GHz with a 3.3GHz turbo frequency and a large 20MB L3 cache. Though it was intended for use with the C600 series chipset, it's also compatible with X79 desktop motherboards, and as such supports quad-channel DDR3 memory.

    You're probably wondering at this point, why we are talking about an old, expensive server-grade processor? Well, late last year thousands of these processors hit the secondhand market as previous-gen servers from Facebook and others were decommissioned by used equipment recyclers. With so many processors in play and little demand for them, prices have plummeted to less than $100. Moreover, the Xeon E5-2670 supports symmetric multiprocessing, meaning you can buy two Xeon E5-2670 to create an insanely affordable 16-core/32-thread beast.

    That's exactly what we set out to do. Paired with a dual-socket Asrock EP2C602 motherboard and 64GB of DDR3 memory, the core components of our system came in at ~$800, which is less than you'd pay for a single octa-core i7-5960X.

    Read the complete review.

     
  2. cartera

    cartera TS Addict Posts: 296   +78

    So I have just built a new PC, and now I have read this article I have the itch to build another. Grrrrr Techspot!

    That is some insane power for relatively little money.
     
  3. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,333   +267

    I passed the article on to a friend looking to build a system for (re)encoding and gaming, I think this might be a happy medium for him, being able to set the affinity for (re)encoding on one processor, while running games on the other.
     
    Steve likes this.
  4. Pat McGroyne

    Pat McGroyne TS Rookie

    Alright....I'm in. Wasn't planning on actually reviving my old(er) tower, but this seems like a great project and incredibly powerful payoff for a hobbyist price.
     
    crocography and Steve like this.
  5. zer0ops

    zer0ops TS Rookie

    Great article and analysis.
     
    Darth Shiv, DaveBG, Arturo and 2 others like this.
  6. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,333   +267

    Another thought, V3 versions of this processor are available as used and/or Engineering Samples for around $200 (maybe less), which might get you a better return on investment being on a newer fab and chipset. Then again, they still are two to four times more expensive than the 2670 ha ha ha...
     
  7. Peter Farkas

    Peter Farkas TS Addict Posts: 214   +67

    Cool article! thanks Techspot! ;-)
    I also have the itch to build one. Though I wouldn't be able to utilize its full potential at all. :)
     
    crocography likes this.
  8. Holden Massey

    Holden Massey TS Rookie

    So, where are you looking at that $70 price tag at? Cheapest one I can find new is about $300. Also, I'm looking to make a good gaming workstation for streaming, would I need to throw a capture card in here to allow for better streaming or is this good enough by itself? Thanks. Great article BTW.
     
  9. bcool6

    bcool6 TS Rookie

    Ebay is your friend Holden. They seem to be going for around $75.00 currently per processor. Might have to start picking up some of this hardware for a new build myself.
     
    Steve likes this.
  10. Roberto R

    Roberto R TS Rookie

    No Direct 12 test
     
  11. fps4ever

    fps4ever TS Booster Posts: 80   +59

    Bought one of the E5-2670's for $70 on eBay a few weeks ago. Got a free Asus Rampage IV Black Edition motherboard from work and had 4 sticks of G.Skill PC1600 sitting around. Really impressed by the over-all performance. Just an FYI, you might squeeze out a little more performance by shutting off Hyperthreading as then you are using 8 true cores, which is more than enough If you are just a web surfer, game player, office user type that doesn't need 16 threads. Saves on power and heat as well.
     
    Peter Farkas likes this.
  12. Duke Sparrow

    Duke Sparrow TS Rookie

    Hopefully people don't discount the cost of actually using this PC. The increased horsepower over a more energy-efficient model comes at a price. If you were to build this computer with 2 Xeon E5-2670's and two GTX 980 ti's, the at-load power consumption of this thing could exceed 900 watts per hour. Assuming you used the computer 8 hours a day for intensive tasks, or you just left it on all the time and didn't use it at load quite as often, the computer would likely be consuming $28-$33 dollars a month in electricity (I'm using an average cost of $.13 per kwh), or about $360 dollars per year. If you put together the same components on a newer board and with a more efficient processor, the computer would use anywhere from 220 to 290 fewer watts per hour. This doesn't sound like a huge difference, but it would be about $9 per month cheaper to run. That's over a hundred dollar difference per year. In a typical use-case, I'll guess that a person might keep this setup for about 3 years before upgrading/swapping any components. That's $300 more dollars in operating costs compared to a more efficient model over the typical-use lifespan of the computer. Just something to keep in mind. By the way, I ran my numbers using the calculator at http://outervision.com/power-supply-calculator.
     
  13. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Guru Posts: 860   +272

    "Finally powering the 16-core beast is the Corsair RM Series RM100x power supply."

    Near bottom of page 1... I assume this is a typo and you mean 1000x, as that's what's stated elsewhere...

    And D@MN!! Makes me really regret my 5960 I put in my PC 9 months ago...
     
  14. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,169   +577

    Youtubers have been all over this Xeon trend and right now Intel is it's own worst enemy. Buy these while you can because the price of the motherboards are shooting up. Right now they average at about $230 but they can and will increase in price.
     
  15. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,149   +1,423

    Last edited: Apr 4, 2016
  16. Pat McGroyne

    Pat McGroyne TS Rookie

    Not bad advice to consider. My previous, single core, 5 spinning 5.25 HDD's, SLI rig has both a 1000W and a 650W PS (Coolermaster has an awesome 11 bay case with a special jumper to sync the power switch). It cost me about $35/month on my electric utility per month.
     
  17. Psyclone

    Psyclone TS Rookie

    How would it handle stuff like ZBrush and Maya?
     
  18. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,035   +269

    I wanted to upgrade from an I7-3820 in December without changing my X79 MB, and chose an E5-1650V2. They can be had for about $400 on e-bay. I found a sweet deal which convinced me to do it - bought 4 of them for $1,100, sold 3 of them for a reasonable profit, and sold the 3820 so I ended up a few $$ ahead.
     
  19. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,214   +1,240

    There is no way you are going to exceed 900 watts even with a pair of 980 Ti’s. As shown in the article they are actually quite efficient in terms of power usage using less than 50% more power than a single 5960X. Under maximum load the system can’t use more than 120 watts more than a single 5960X assuming they have the same GPU setup which obviously they would in an apple to apples comparison.

    Even if you take your figures which are massively inflated, you say this system will cost you $300 more after 3 years of operation. I have no idea what this is compared to? Some other 16-core rig?

    Let’s compare it to the 5960X because we have those figures and it is the most powerful consumer grade desktop processor you can buy. The entire dual Xeon build can easily be done for $1000, the 5960X build would cost over $2000. So you would have to run them for 10 years before the faster Xeons ended up costing the same amount.

    We can also see looking at the power consumption figures that a single E5-2670 consumes less power than the 5960X and FX-8350. What’s more is it has twice the cores of the Core i7-6700K yet it consumes just 40% more power, not twice as much as you might expect (this is obviously due to the lower clock speeds).

    Finally, I should point out that at idle the dual Xeons consumed the same amount of power as a regular desktop system using a Core i5 processor for example. At a cost of $.13 per kwh the Xeon system can’t cost over $15 more than the 5960X per month and that is assuming it sees 100% load across all 32-threads 24/7. If you are buying it for a rendering box it obviously won’t be doing that and the time you save will be incredibly valuable.

    You will get much better pricing on the E5-2670 from eBay.

    Anything that can fully utilize the huge amount of threads this configuration offers will be incredibly fast.
     
    Adhmuz likes this.
  20. stts1

    stts1 Banned Posts: 22

    The problem is what can use all these cores. This article is missing a very important section. A list of software that can make use of all this power. Photoshop cant use it, and I use Pinnacle moviemaker and it cant use it either. What 4k video editing software not owned by Hollywood can use 32 threads? That is what I want to know or a higher electric bill and no audio capabilities wont be worth it.
     
  21. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,214   +1,240

    A lot of professional grade software can use all the cores, I don't think listing software was important and that certainly wasn't what this article was about (I guess you have to do some research on your own).

    Users are reporting incredible Adobe Premiere rendering times with this setup. If you aren't using the cores the power consumption won't be "high". For example if you use just 4 cores it will have the power consumption of a Sandy Bridge Core i5.

    The other advantage which I pointed out in the review is that you could render using Pinnacle moviemaker for example and still use the system, you could render multiple different videos at the same time if you wanted to.
     
    Darth Shiv and Adhmuz like this.
  22. stts1

    stts1 Banned Posts: 22

    I tried to open multiple Pinnacles but they wont open more than one. I suspect I would have to setup multiple virtual machines to be able to open simultanious Pinnacle sessions. I saw on another forum that Windows Movie maker was the same way. Plus there are other bottlenecks involved with opening multiple instances. Access to all the other resources all the instances will have to fight for. Proffesionals that can afford the tens of thousands of dollars for proffesional software that can seriously use 32 threads are not going to be so squimish about the price of a $1000 processor that wont run their electric bill up so much, and has more conveinient features that server boards dont support. Like I said in my post. Its a very important point to hilight what software the average joe can run on this to make it worthwhile for the average joe. Because its the average joe and his limited budget that are all fired up about getting practicle computing power at low price points that few even heard about.
     
  23. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,214   +1,240

    As I said this build has been extremely popular with those running quality encoding software such as Adobe Premiere. YouTubers are going crazy over the $70 8-core Xeons and for good reason, it is an insane buy.

    If you have enough memory you can easily encode multiple sources at once providing the software allows for it without having to run VM’s, like what we did with HandBrake.

    I am just wondering, if you were going to build a Pinnacle Studio rendering box today what would you use?
     
  24. lripplinger

    lripplinger TS Addict Posts: 258   +89

    A popular mod right now, is the 2006 era Xeons (LGA 771) modded to go into LGA 775 boards. Great way to get some more life out of that old platform. Xeons are amazing chips. I wish I could do the same on my current LGA 1156 P55 chipset board and slap a Xeon in it.
     
  25. stts1

    stts1 Banned Posts: 22

    Yup. My Gig Sniper3 just gave up the ghost 3 months before the 3 year warranty expired. I just got an email from Gigabyte that its unrepairable and they have nothing in that 1155 socket to replace it with. So Im taking the refund. I was looking to replace the i3 CPU with an i7 to speed up Pinnacle, but since Im getting a refund, Im just going to switch gears out of the 1155 altogether. Just not sure exactly what. 32 threads sounds awesome, but its only good if I can get real use out of it.
     

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