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Getting into Folding! - Need a bit of help and advise

Discussion in 'bit-tech Folding Team' started by rowin4kicks, 17 Aug 2009.

  1. rowin4kicks

    rowin4kicks a man walked into a bar ...

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    Right now when CPC joined bit i wasn't sure of what to make of your weird obsession with "Folding", I was quite confused why people would want to spend thousands of pounds for a computer that was gonna sit there and they rarely used or touched. After reading through posts in this folding section I discovered how addictive it can be (and with a bit of an addictive personality myself i didn't want to get drawn in!)

    However after setting up a folding client on my iMac, and all the coverage in the main articles on Bit, I'm hooked!!!

    I have decided to buy a dedicated folding machine, which when completed should hopefully be churning out around 20,000 ppd. This is based on the august version of the What Hardware Should I Buy? folding machine...

    I wanted to start out slow with just one or two GTS 250's, and then as my paychecks come in, slowly build up to a 4 card setup...


    Basically as a Prospective student I need to source all of this gear as cheaply as possible, is there any 2nd hand hardware available apart from eGay and the For Sale section?

    Also what do you guys reckon about using 2nd hand kit in a dedicated folding rig? Is it worth having the warranty that comes with buying new?

    And another question, what case would be best (and cheapest) for somebody who likes a nice plain and simple look?​


    Cheers for any help....
     
  2. Unicorn

    Unicorn Uniform November India

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    First of all welcome to the folding team, and to the folding forum :)

    I'll answer your questions as I come to them:-

    2nd hand hardware is a great way to build an inexpensive folding rig. Try to get components (especially your cards) that have a warranty still left on them. You may think it's not a big deal as I did until one of the cards actually dies (and they do die from folding) and you have no warranty on it. A lot of us on the folding team buy cards from www.videocardshop.co.uk, you should try there before resorting to fleaBay.

    If they don;t have anything that's within your budget, go and have a look on eBay and see what's available. Don't be caught in a false deal though, like saving £10 on a "new" GTX250 when for an extra £10, you can buy one from a trusted e-tailler and have not only the e-taillers returns period but the card warranty as well. I got 2 of the 8 cards in my farm from eBay, and of those 2 one is starting to throw up errors every now and again. That's after folding over 600 work units on a 20 something % overclock, in a period of 4-5 months though, so considering it only cost me £30 at the time, you realize that I've gotten more than my moneys worth out of that one card.

    The folders case of choice is the Antec Three Hundred. I guarantee that more than half of the dedicated folding rigs amongst folders who frequent this forum are built in A300's. They're chap (you'll never pay £50 for one, at the moment they are about £48 on Xcase, 45 on Scan), plain looking (although I have dome a lot of mods on them for customers since they came out and the cheap plain look is merely a great blank canvas for this!) and they have excellent airflow if you place fans on all the available mounts. Good airflow is essential for a dedicated folding rig because you are pushing the components that are running the clients - be it GPU's or CPU's - further than they have ever gone before. There is nothing that puts more of a resource load on GPU's and CPU's than folding @ home. That's important to think about before you turn those fans down to medium or low settings. If the noise of the many, many fans irritates you, put the rig somewhere you won't hear it. Don't be tempted to let it run with the fans on low speeds or your components won't last long!

    Good luck with the build, keep us posted on the progress and if you have any other questions like how to set up clients correctly or even what combination of clients to use, ask them and we'll help you out :)
     
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  3. Norfolk'N'Good

    Norfolk'N'Good Folding Chimp

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    Choose your PSU carefully and don't forget all those PCI-e power leads needed for the GPU cards.
    Pick a CPU that can take VT, like a E8400 for the VMware and notfred client they produce extra ppd than the standard client.
     
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  4. Christopher N. Lew

    Christopher N. Lew Folding in memory of my father

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    Welcome to the fold.
    My experience has been that there is always a bit more tweaking to be done on the folding machines, so they're not completely untouched; untouched seems like a desirable goal, but I never get there.

    Choose your favorite type of card and stick to it, until your machine is full. That way you aviod all the potential problems from trying to run different shader numbers, or different generations of cards. Don't forget to factor-in the cost of electricity (if you are paying for it), as well as the upfront purchase costs. Does that article mention running costs?

    I have bought and sold cards on eBay. I am very pleased with 9800GX2 cards, the price of which is plumetting at the moment. The only cards that have failed so far, are ones that I bought new, but I've been able to return them direct to the manufacturer without needing any kind of receipt. Different manufactures and sales outlets have different conditions, it can be worthwhile to read up on them beforehand.

    I have bought cards from videocardsonline.co.uk graded section, at an excellent price, and often check out their listings, just in case there is a bargain to be had.

    Now there's a question ... only you can judge on the looks, but consider that four double-slot cards require eight expansion slots on the rear. Most cases only have seven. The Antec Nine Hundred Two has eight, as do the Lian Li PC-50 and some of their server cases. I believe Coolermaster also do one. You'll need good airflow, so look for large intake and exhaust fans. Some people swear that you need a side-mounted fan to cool the graphics cards, but I've yet to find a good looking case with one. You may like to consider noise, and consider swapping the supplied fans for quieter models.
     
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  5. Taffy

    Taffy Folding for Margaret 17/3/2011 RIP

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    Welcome to the fold :D
    There is a good article on fans in this months Mag :thumb:
     
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  6. Vince_Kinslow

    Vince_Kinslow Folding Millionaire

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    Welcome to our addictive world :clap: :rock:

    PSU get the biggest going it will see you through longer as the addiction bites and you want to upgrade components but your PSU will be able to cope with just about anythibg you throw at it. Modular is also useful for keeping things neat and tidy :hip:
     
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  7. MaverickWill

    MaverickWill Dirty CPC Mackem

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    I'm sure there are GTS250s that have a cooling system that doesn't require the 8th slot (ie dumps heat in the case, instead of exhausting it out the back) - I know Gigabyte do one. If you could live with that, then the Antec Three Hundred would do the jobbie.

    If, however, you do need those 8 expansion slots, there's:

    Antec 902 (as above)
    Lian Li PC-50 (as above)
    Akasa Eclipse 62
    Akasa Mirage 62
    The Coolermaster HAF922 has a "7+1" expansion slot setup, though I only see 7 slots, so I've got no idea what that's all about.

    Or you could just cobble together a wooden box for it all... :p
     
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  8. Norfolk'N'Good

    Norfolk'N'Good Folding Chimp

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    Dont forget to add your kit to the GPU and CPU sticky threads so we can all see what you have under the hood :D
     
  9. Unicorn

    Unicorn Uniform November India

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    You, my good man, are a genius! I've got one (no wait - two!) of those lying empty in the workshop at the moment! It's amazing the amount of stuff you forget about when it's in boxes and out of sight :rolleyes:
     
  10. saspro

    saspro IT monkey

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    Welcome to the team.

    Cases are fine 2nd hand but get cards from a proper retailer as folding can put a lot of stress on them.
    Get the best PSU you can afford with plenty of extra pci-e connectors.
    Always add whatever fans you can to the case.

    and above all.

    Always get to the electricity bill before the wife. :D
     
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  11. MaverickWill

    MaverickWill Dirty CPC Mackem

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    Might I request a drop of your delicious Rep? Oh, and potential bagsie if you sell one on. ;)
     
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  12. rowin4kicks

    rowin4kicks a man walked into a bar ...

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    Thanks for all of the advise guys, I am defiantly gonna need more at some point atleast!

    I'm funding the folding rig through my last paycheck and my student overdraft which has just come through, but i don't know quite when I will have access to it!

    I have been trawling the internet trying to find the Bit recommended MSI K9A2 Platinum anywhere for around the Scan price, however Microdirect has it for a decent price and in stock crucially!

    Here is a quick shopping list sans the ram and all important Graphics cards (I already have the HDD)

    [​IMG]


    I'm probably gonna go for the Antec 300 as it is simple, cheap and has a great airflow.

    A few questions though:

    Is the Corsair PSU gonna have enough grunt?

    How would a folding rid deal with rendering CAD files or other Photoshop/Design work?

    Also I'm soon gonna be selling my iMac to fund my Uni computer. Would it be a better idea to combine the two budgets and get an i7 build and whack a few extra graphics cards for dedicated folding when the machine isnt in use? Say like Tri-SLI 275's?​


    Cheers for the help again!

    (PS rep added to all who helped)
     
  13. Christopher N. Lew

    Christopher N. Lew Folding in memory of my father

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    You list an AM2 board and an AM3 CPU. I know there are all sorts of almost interchangable AMD socket types, but advise you to double check this.

    CustomPC did a big labtest of CPU heatsinks and fans a couple of issues back. They recommend the Fenrir Titan for AMD CPUs. I've got one - it is impressively good.

    The Corsair will let you run four graphics cards of the type you have mentioned above, but would upgrading, or using an additional PSU, if you wanted to go to more powerful cards in future. Then again, who knows what the future might bring? GTX300 series?

    Probably for more mainstream graphics work you would be pushing the CPU hard, and just using one card to render the results.

    i7 build? Depends, do you want to pay for high-end hardware? Some members here have overclocked their i7s and run the bigadv WUs - 50000 points in three days ... is that enough to tempt you?

    HTH
     
  14. Unicorn

    Unicorn Uniform November India

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    You've been rep'd ;) One isn't worth selling actually, unless you're going to fit it with 4 radiators to fill all the gaping holes in it :D It'll take a 360mm in the floor, a 120mm in both the front and top, and another 360mm alongside the side panel.

    The other one is much the same with less rad mounts watercut in it, and is half way to housing one of my 4 card folding rigs as of tonight! :p
     
  15. chin913

    chin913 忍び So say we all

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    I like the amd stuff cheap and chearfull but my wee dual core wont run the notfred well at all ...Infact its crap for it :-( deadline is up before the eta . Gonna pull it out soon and replace with a quad then use the dual for another folding rig more ppd
     
  16. rowin4kicks

    rowin4kicks a man walked into a bar ...

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    The board and CPU are straight out of the Bit Hardware recommendations, so if they don't work together then I would be slightly annoyed slash confused (far too many AMD socket and chip types, I'm an intel man at heart)

    I am trying to get this build as cheap as possible, if it is that much better then I may go for it.

    I have heard alot of good stuff about Corsair so I would most defiantly be going for the highest wattage I can afford, preferably from Corsair.

    So there are no real Multi-GPU intrensive rendering applications?

    I have looked into an i7 rig before, and I have changed my mind about it a few times, due to rumors of the upcoming i5 chips, and as you mentioned the Dx11 cards that should be out within the month!

    I have made up a quick shopping list of what I would be going for if i combined the two budgets..

    [​IMG]

    It should come to no more than £1100 really, what do you guys reckon?

    I wanted a m-ATX setup because I'm gonna have to cart this thing around on the train every time I go home so size and weight is important.

    It is a compromise between a work rig and a folding rig but it would half the cost of electricity having just one machine, and would be much more convenient & probably alot cheaper in the short and long term.

    What's the opinion on the 275's? Its a throw up between these and a 295, which again could be added to for a reduced price once the 300 series card come out.​

    Thanks again
     
  17. Christopher N. Lew

    Christopher N. Lew Folding in memory of my father

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    Casting my mind back to the days of frequent moving, I applaud the option of a single, small system (but then I'm biased, I have three Shuttles). One point, small and light PCs are easy to walk away with, and student lodgings and shared houses are notorious for bad security, so make sure your insurance covers the PC you have, and not some bean-counter's idea of how much a PC should cost.

    My two cents worth on this list ...
    a) The Corsair PSU is physically big, will it fit into the case? Try and check the dimensions given, it may claim to be 'ATX compatible' but it's length is actually outside the spec.
    b) Heat may be a problem in the small case - particularly with an i7 and powerful graphics card. Any reviews on that case which pay attention to heat?

    Probably best to go with the cheaper cards, and upgrade later, if you feel you need to.

    On the topic of multi-card rendering, there may be suitable software, it isn't a field I'm familiar with. You may get a significant improvement if you put your cards in SLI, but for folding you would need to disable the SLI (easily done in nVidia Control Panel).

    Finally, how do you get the entries shown in blue on your basket? Are they an automatic suggestion from Scan? :confused:
     
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  18. rowin4kicks

    rowin4kicks a man walked into a bar ...

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    That is a very good point, Im probably gonna be paring it with a Dell Ultrasharp 2408 or a Dell Ultrasharp 3008/07, depending on funds so there will be alot of hardware just sitting around dans my room. I am definatly looking into insurance....

    Great call, will look into other builds people have made using the case, see if its possible, here are the specs:-

    1000HX - 200mm long
    850HX - 180mm long
    750HX - 180mm long

    Will probably end up going for the 850HX as it both saves me a bit of money and space, plus the 1000HX is a bit of overkill for a m-ATX mobo tbh.

    Heat is my main concern, the case I actually want is the Lian Li PC-v351 which has dual 120mm's up front, should keep everything cool enough.... Hopefully!

    Cheers will look into it.

    Its a scan today only deal

    cheers +rep!
     

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