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Build Advice Conundrum - Which platform to choose

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by azrael-, 12 Jun 2012.

  1. azrael-

    azrael- I'm special...

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    I have a bit of a conundrum. I'm all set on building a new Intel-based system within the next couple of months. Was holding out for Ivy Bridge to come along first. However...

    As some of you probably already know I favour ECC memory for my builds. With my current system that wasn't much of an issue since the memory controller still was in the chipset. All I had to do was to get something X38/X48-based and I was set.

    Things have gotten a lot more complicated since as the memory controller has moved to the CPU itself. Great thing, if, like AMD, you equip all your CPUs (as of K8) with ECC capability. Intel, however, is into market segmentation, so to get ECC I need to go Xeon.

    Which now leaves me with the following (current) choices. I can easily buy an Ivy Bridge Xeon (E3-1200v2 family), but I'm kind of limited to _one_ board, the ASUS P8C WS, the successor to the P8B WS, which apparently has a bit of a spotty track record according to reports on the net.

    _OR_ I can get one of several X79/C600 boards, but that limits me to exactly _one_ CPU, namely the secret and elusive Sandy Bridge-E-based E5-1620, which is pretty much identical to an i7-3820 with a few more bits enabled, but is only available as an OEM option (read not boxed). Prices are about on par with a boxed E3-1245v2.

    What would be the prudent choice here? I'd like the IB Xeon because it gives me the power I need yet is reasonably frugal itself (less power, less heat, less noise), which cannot be said about the E5-1620. And the chipset isn't quite as advanced (no native USB3), but perhaps the greater number of PCIe lanes compensate for this.
     
    Last edited: 12 Jun 2012
  2. Elton

    Elton Officially a Whisky Nerd

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    Sandy Bridge (vanilla) based Xeon processors? It might not be the best solution but it might work. Or if you are patient I guess you can wait for more of the IB line to arrive.

    That or just settle for Z77.... But ECC is difficult to find for consumer use.
     
  3. Bloody_Pete

    Bloody_Pete Technophile

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    Why do you go for ECC memory?
     
  4. donok

    donok Every Little Helps .....

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    +1
    building a pc spec up from cpu or gpu requirements is normal but doing it from memory requirements is unheard of
     
  5. azrael-

    azrael- I'm special...

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    There's no problem getting IB Xeons (all E3-1200v2 are IBs). But there's really only one board, the P8C WS, to put them in. Or two, if you count last year's P8B WS, but why put a current-gen CPU in a last-gen board and, amongst other things, lose PCIe 3.0 and native USB3.

    The only other option would be an SB-E Xeon (E5-1620 specifically), which gives me a greater choice in motherboards, yet limits my choice for CPU to exactly one (the others are _way_ to expensive).

    The short answer: peace of mind. I've always used ECC memory even when it was quite more expensive than regular memory. These days the price difference hardly matters.

    The one time I opted for regular memory I had memory errors and lost quite a bit of valuable data. It got corrupted without me noticing it before it was too late. The thing is, with regular memory you can go quite a long time without noticing any issues. With ECC memory (or rather parity memory) at the very least you'll get a notification from the OS.

    Those memory errors might not even be the result of faulty memory sticks (hard memory errors). With memory density rising all the time the chance for soft memory errors is greater than ever. And you might never know unless the error occurs in executable memory space.

    The thing is, enabling ECC memory on everything costs next to nothing. ECC mode is already in most, if not all, CPUs. It'd perhaps require a few more traces on the motherboard. And of course slightly more expensive memory. Although, truth be told, ECC memory is often cheaper than socalled "high quality OCing" memory, which often doesn't even adhere to JEDEC specs.
     
    Last edited: 13 Jun 2012
  6. Elton

    Elton Officially a Whisky Nerd

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    I wouldn't bother with SB-E then. IB-E seems to be the most logical choice although admittedy the board is expensive, if you want it, I think you'll have to end up biting the bullet.
     
  7. azrael-

    azrael- I'm special...

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    There's no IB-E ...yet. No motherboards either.

    IB Xeons are made from the same pixie dust as regular IBs. They just have ECC support enabled, as well as a few other niceties. Same goes for IB Xeon motherboards. Same Panther Point chipset. Intel market segmentation, remember? :)

    SB-E Xeons are a bit different. For one, they officially support PCIe 3.0 whereas SB-E Core i7s (i7-3820, i7-3930K, i7-3960X) only support PCIe 2.0. The SB-E Xeons also give you a crapload more PCIe ports (PCIe lanes?): 40 instead of 10. A max TDP of 130W scares me off a bit, though, compared to IB's 69/77W.

    EDIT: PCIe lanes and ports seem to be different beasts although I cannot quite grasp that difference.
     
    Last edited: 13 Jun 2012
  8. hamza_tm

    hamza_tm Well-Known Member

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    Interesting about using ECC, what do you use your PC for that requires such peace of mind?

    I mean as a gamer I couldn't care less about RAM that has concurrent bit error checking and correction. If a game crashes (every few weeks or so it happens) just restart and carry on, not much lost. Sorry to go off topic here :)
     
  9. Parge

    Parge the worst Super Moderator

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    Maybe now is the time to get over the ECC memory addiction?
     
  10. bdigital

    bdigital Is re-building his PC again

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    What sort of thing will you be using the system for?
     
  11. Burnout21

    Burnout21 Is the daddy!

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    I am afraid to say I agree with others.

    What exactly is the reason for your upgrade? I ask because like me you've used skt775 kit and missed the X58/P55/P65 generations until now. Only recently did I acquire a X58 platform which tbh gathers dust as i spend all day on my workstation in my sig.

    If you want to boost your gaming ability then just build a around either a SB or IB system with standard memory. If you also do sensitive computational computing such as FEA, CFD and list continues I would just keep your current machine and run it headless else where as a node, maybe chuck a Q6600 in it for a cheap boost in performance.

    Honestly I think your making your upgrade decision hard for yourself.
     
  12. Elton

    Elton Officially a Whisky Nerd

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    Whoops I meant to say vanilla ivy bridge. Not in ib-e
     
  13. azrael-

    azrael- I'm special...

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    I use my system for anything and everything. Also, at any given point I only have one system. I simply haven't got room for more than that. I find that my E8400 is getting a bit long in the tooth. As is my graphics card. Also a faster system is always of value when compiling code... :)

    A bit OT, but I'm often shocked that people are so blasé about their data. Backup, while extremely important, only helps to a certain extent, because you might just as easily backup corrupted data without realizing it.
     
  14. bdigital

    bdigital Is re-building his PC again

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    Regarding being shocked.....

    For most people its just a case of risk and impact. The risk of my system having a hiccup and corrupting/losing data may be 'medium', but the impact to me is 'low' because it really just doesnt matter that much (to me). Therefore i dont rank its importance in my hardware choices very high. I dont know about the others posting here, but i would assume that they are similar?

    But if Data security / integrity is a prime requirement of yours, then i can see why you want ECC.

    If im entirely honest i didnt realise it was that much of an issue, but then again, you probably use your system for more critical tasks than i do (hence my question).

    Good luck and I hope you get something suitable :thumb:
     
  15. donok

    donok Every Little Helps .....

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    I think its time for you to stop with the ecc addiction. maybe find a class or something. lool

    on a serious note just use the regular stuff it does 99% of us just fine. building a pc from scratch just due to ecc memory requirements is ridiculous. your spending so much more just for ecc memory.

    all hardware can fail

    just get a ivy bridge system that will do your needs on cpu and gpu requirements and forgo the ecc memory. if your worried about losing data then get 2 nas drives in different locations and also buy data space online then sync them all up to backup your data.
     
  16. azrael-

    azrael- I'm special...

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    I originally intended to leave this thread alone, but then I thought I may have just overcomplicated things for you by mentioning ECC memory.

    So, let's put this in "consumer" terms. ;)

    What would be preferable?

    A Core i7-3770 (not un-locked(!), but otherwise with all that IB entails) with exactly _one_ Z77 board to choose from.

    -or-

    A Core i7-3820 (with all that SB-E entails) with several X79 boards to choose from.

    I'm looking for the pros and cons of each platform.

    ECC memory hardly costs much extra these days. Actually, the whole system wouldn't cost too much more than an equivalent regular system. It's more the component selection, that is limited.

    Also, losing data as such isn't my main concern. It's getting corrupted data without me knowing about it. Like I said, backing up only get's you so far. It's useless if you back up corrupted data without realising it. Garbage in, garbage out.

    All that being said I'd like to thank you all for the input you've already given and for the input you hopefully will still give. :thumb:
     
  17. MSHunter

    MSHunter Well-Known Member

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    If ECC is so important then you have 2 choices

    Xeon or AMD

    AMD as per usual seem to have more support for ECC RAM
     
  18. azrael-

    azrael- I'm special...

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    Yeah, that's one of the great things about AMD. I really loved my A64 system back in the day. Haven't really looked into the state of ECC on recent AMD platforms, but I suppose it's still in there, although perhaps not in the low-end Zacate CPUs.

    This time I've my eyes set on a new Intel system, though. And I'm aware that this means Xeon if I want ECC. I just "translated" my Xeon options into more mainstream Core options, so people have a better idea of what I'm looking at. Basically Xeon and Core chips are the same. It's just a question of what's enabled and what's fused off. :)
     
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