Server Hardware

While I am not a first time computer builder, many things have changed since the good old days of parting together a computer from what I had laying around.  This was a particularly important build because I was wanting to invest a moderate amount of money for something that would provide enough stable computing power for the immediate future.  This build was not just a quick build and see what I could get out of it.  I wanted to make sure the build would match the desired function.

Part Selection

PC Partpicker is a fantastic website that lets you explore the many options when deciding on the parts for a custom build.  I think the part selection should start at the processor since that is the central component.  I have always been an AMD fan over Intel.  I have used Intel not by choice in all my Mac products, but I guess the draw of an underdog is what keeps bringing me back to AMD.  Sometime ago they had released their 8 core FX series processors and I decided on the FX-8320E.  After reading the reviews the out of the box 3.2 gHz was very stable with no issues and had advertised 4.0 gHz without any hassle.  The price point was also significantly lower than the model that came out of the box with 4.0 gHz.  The lower model also let me pick some less than top of the line motherboard and coolers to save some money.

My dream build with all top of the line products came out to around 1200 dollars.  After choosing the cheaper model processor, and also a little less than top of line board I came in much cheaper which was nice.  After open box specials and some sales I found, the actual total was closer to 500 dollars for my build.  Once all my rebates come back in the mail I should be able to knock another 75 dollars off that price, although I will probably spend that money on case fans to cool a little better now that I have overclocked the CPU.

PC Partpicker has a great feature where you can ensure that everything selected is compatible with each other.  This saved me a lot of heartache, returns, and potentially lost money.  While PC Partpicker does search many online retailers for the best price on your products I was able to find them cheaper.  Although if I could find them through PC Partpicker for a similar price I would buy them there to help support such a great tool.  After selecting and ensuring all my parts were compatible, I went to Micro Center and purchased all my parts there.  I have never used them before, but I happen to have one around the corner.  The prices, selection, and ease of in store pick up for Micro Center was top notch.  I think they have become my new go to computer store.  I could do all my shopping online and ensure I was getting exactly what I wanted, and then put it in my cart to go pick up within 18 minutes.  They even make rebates a breeze with the complimentary receipt copy they will give if needed.

Build

Without further delay, the specs of my system are as follows.

  • CPU: AMD FX8320E – 8 Cores overclocked and stable (as soon as I typed that it crashed, but now it is stable) at 4.2 gHz
  • CPU Cooling: Corsair Hydro Series H55
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-970A-D3P
  • HDD: Toshiba 2TB 7,200 RPM SATA III 6 Gb/s
  • Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport XT 16GB DDR3-1866 (looking to double this)
  • Video: EVGA GeForce GT 610, 2GB DDR3 (Cheapest video card at the time, not looking at GPUs right now)
  • Powersupply: Thermaltake TR2 600 Watt ATX (rebates!!)
  • Case: Thermaltake V3 Black ATX Mid Tower (Did I mention the Thermaltake rebates!!)

Overall I am happy with how everything came together.  I would probably rethink the case, CPU cooling, and motherboard combo because getting it all to fit was a bit cumbersome.  I ended up having to put the radiator for the H55 at the bottom case intake fan outlet.  This means it is just sucking cool air across the radiator which them becomes hot and blowing into the case.  This is tolerable right now, and I plan to get some more fans to help create a cool draft to counteract this effect.  I could also do without the stock case fan blue LED, but that will probably be replaced with a stronger fan once all my rebates arrive.

Performance

After spending a whole day carefully overclocking my AMD FX-8320E I was able to land at 4.2 gHz, a whole 1 gHz over the out of box speed.  With the Gigabyte GA-970A-D3P motherboard I found many reviews on the internet that said to overclock with caution.  Listening to this caution I slowly approached 1.475 as my needed CPU voltage.  Looking at the actual voltage draw it seems to stay more around 1.45, with occasional peaks to 1.46.  I could not find a good stress test with Ubuntu, but BOINC running projects on all eight processors provided 100% CPU load for hours on end to make sure I was getting good values for temperature under load.  Currently I am around 41 degrees C for the core and averaging 56 degrees C for the motherboard, and socket.  At that temperature I think I need some more fans to create a draft and dissipate some more heat.  Soon I will add details on the overclocking in hopes that it will be useful to someone else.

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