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Rainbow Unicorn - 12 core Xeon budget build

by codetricity

11
31 Comments

Part List View full price breakdown

Details

Date Published

Aug. 20, 2016

Date Built

Aug. 20, 2016

CPU Clock Rate

2.34 GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

52.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

68.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.165 GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

6.61 GHz

Description

To support my children's creative interests, I built a 12 core Xeon super small budget system for Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Photoshop. As this is a home build for the living room, I wanted something low cost, small, with some room for expansion. This is phase 2 of a build with 4 or 5 phases.

Goal

Improve on my kids' video editing experience. Upgrade their current system which is built around a 4790K i7 overclocked, watercooled, SATA SSD, and 16GB of RAM. They're running into limitations with HD and 4K video editing as they develop skills with special effects and VR/AR 360 video editing.

Requirements

  • ITX or MicroATX form factor with with max dimension of 12" on a side, the smaller the better.
  • low noise, close to silent
  • start with 32GB of memory and expandable to 64GB of memory
  • start with SSD main drive, mechanical bulk storage drive and future upgrade path to M.2 PCI-Express 3.0
  • start with GTX 950 and upgrade path to GTX 1060
  • 2011-v3 or 1151 socket, nothing older (and thus DDR4 is also a requirement)

Case

I like the Silverstone Sugo SG13B for the small size. I would prefer a higher build quality with thicker metal and a window, but alternatives like the Thermaltake Core v1 and Corsair Obsidian 250D were too big for my taste. I have two pictures of the SG13B compared to the Thermaltake Core v1, which I use for my test build. The Themaltake is easier to build in, has a nice window, and is cleaner. However, it's huge. I like the SG13B overall because the form factor is wonderful. I also looked at the Coolermaster Elite 110, but the graphic card length is limited to 210mm and the build quality is about the same. I spent a long time thinking about the Silverstone Sugo SG10 with a MicroATX board, which would give me more memory expansion. However, it's double the volume and I think a limit of 64GB RAM with my current ITX board is ok for the next few years. The NCase m1 was too expensive and bigger than the Sugo SG13B.

With an SFX power supply, I have space for at least 4 2.5" SSD or 2.5" HD disks in the case. I think I can fit 5. I am using the power supply bracket as a SSD bracket with sticky tape.

As this is a computer for children and creative hobbies, my daughter modded the case with a hot glue gun and sticker pack. I think there will be more mods to come.

CPU

I'm hoping the Xeon E5-2658 v3 12 core CPU will perform better than the current 4790K overclocked 4 core CPU for video rendering and Photoshop editing. Benchmarks with Cinebench indicate significantly higher performance compared to the 4790K (not overclocked) in multi-core rendering. I'll be satisfied if it gets a 20% boost over the 4790K in it's current overclocked and watercooled state. The cheaper 12 CPU with slower per-core clocks is getting similar multi-core rendering performance to a more expensive enthusiast class 5820K or a i7 6800K 6 core. With the 2011-v3 socket, I can also upgrade the CPU later if the CPU shows sluggish performance. Cinebench scores do not indicate any advantage of the low-end enthusiast class 6 core CPUs 5820K or 6800K over the E5-2658 For the money, the Xeon 2658 CPU is a great value. I recommend it.

Cinebench Scores 1361 cb

Comparison Cinebench scores from Eurogamer and video by MW Technology.

  • Xeon E5-2658 12 core at 2.3 GHz: 1350 cb (this is my CPU, my own benchmark)
  • i7 6800K 6 core overclocked at 4.5 GHz: 1361 cb
  • i7 6800K 6 core stock 3.4 GHz: 1096 cb
  • i7 4790K: 840 cb
  • i5 6600K overclocked @ 4.5 GHz: 702 cb
  • i5 2500K: 492cb
  • i7 laptop dual-core 5500u @ 2.4Ghz: 274 cb

Blenchmark Render 108 seconds

Comparison Blenchmark scores from their site.

  • Xeon 2658 12 core: 108 seconds (this is my CPU, my own benchmark)
  • 4790K @ 4 Ghz (overclocked) takes 147 seconds
  • i5 6600 is 215 seconds

Alternative CPUs

  • E5 2695 v3 14 core 2.5Ghz boost: $308
  • 6900K 8 core, 3.2 GHz overclockable to 4.2Ghz: $1100

Cooling

I originally purchased a CoolerMaster Seidon 120v for watercooling. The pump didn't work. I reverted back to the stock air cooler that came with the motherboard. The system runs almost completely silently when not under load. BIOS settings for the CPU fan speed are as follows:

  • 57c = 20%
  • 63c = 30%
  • 70c = 50%
  • 75c = 70%
  • 80c = critical temperature

The Dynatron air cooler will not fit with an ATX power supply. I am using an SFX power supply and there's a no problem with clearance. People have commented that the Dynatron is too loud, but it's silent on my system unless the system is under heavy load. I'll need to upgrade the CPU cooler if I upgrade my CPU to something that can be overclocked.

The case fan speeds are more aggressive.

Memory

I researched the performance penalties for my applications by not going to quad channel. The performance hit is negligible. I decided to go with 32GB ECC registered memory sticks as the ITX board only has two memory slots. Right now, there is only one stick, which I hope to upgrade to two sticks of 32GB in the future.

Power Supply

The SFX power supply is more expensive, but I think it was worth the extra money. I opted for the Corsair SF 600 instead of the Silverstone, though I think they are probably equivalent. I originally had a Thermaltake 600w ATX power supply in my build, but it was too loud. The Corsair SF 600 is great. I could have gone with the 450w, but I bought the higher power one in case I upgrade the system for overclocking in the future. The power supply is one of the best components of the build. It's a bit expensive for a 600W power supply, but it has a quality feel to it and is probably the best SFX power supply on the market. I have nothing against the Silverstone SFX power supply, but the Corsairs I've bought have all been great.

Storage

I wanted to put a M.2 PCI 3.0 SSD in to the system, but I downgraded to the 1TB Mushkin SSD to save money. I'm using the 2TB Seagate as archive. The 3rd Patriot SSD is for test programs so I don't mess up the main OS. I can easily mount 5 or 6 drives total in the system. The bracket next to the power supply can hold an additional SSD, the m.2 slot is empty now, and there's another 2.5" mounting point on the bottom of the case.

Motherboard

The board supports 64Gb memory and in general just kicks-***. I like the M.2 PCI Express module for Gen3x4 (32 Gb/s) storage and will probably use that in the future. I'll feel bitchin when I do use it. Honestly though, I'm not sure if I need kick-***. The board is overkill and seems like it's on the cutting edge. For an ITX, it'll have every feature you'd want and probably more. Do I really need the SATA Express 10 Gb/s connector? Are there any reasonably-priced disks that actually use this? Do I really need eSATA? on an ITX board when it has USB 3.1? Am I going to use both Ethernet ports? If there was something cheaper in the $150 range with less features, I would have bought that. There's not much choice out there for a 2011-v3 ITX motherboard. Buy this one and you'll feel like you got a Ferrari in your garage.

Planned upgrades in order of priority

  1. 64GB memory with additional 32GB DDR4 Crucial Memory module. Each stick is 32GB ECC registered
  2. SAMSUNG 950 PRO M.2 512GB PCI-Express 3.0 x4 Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) to replace slower SATA SSD
  3. GTX 1060 graphics card to replace GTX 950, though the graphics card does not impact rendering times that much in my usage. The GTX 950 is good enough. I'll only need to upgrade to play with a VR headset, which is not needed, but might be fun in the future. Our videos come from a 360 camera, not from games.

Cooling

I've been using Blender more and have decided to migrate to a 6800K and overclock it.

My first attempt will be with the ARTIC Liquid Freezer 120. I'm going to try and use an Asetek Liquid Cooler Intel 2011 Narrow Retention Ring Kit to get a good mount of the ARTIC cooler to the 6800K CPU.

If this fails, I may change the case to my Thermaltake v1 and use a air cooler like the Noctua NH-U9DXi4 90mm SSO2 or the Noctua NH-D9DX i4 3U 92mm dual or the bigger Noctua NH-U12DX i4

Part Reviews

CPU

For the money, this CPU is an awesome deal. It runs cool and is stable. For everyday use, the per clock core speed is lower and you won't notice any improvement is some tasks. Some tasks may even appear to be slower. It's awesome for video rendering, which is what I got it for. I would place it between the 6700K and the 6800K for video editing. If you got the cash, the 6800K (6 core) would be slightly better. If you really have cash, then the 6900K (8 core) will be considerably better. However, for a budget build, the 12 core 2658 is great.

My other systems:

  • 4790K overclocked for video editing
  • i5 2500K overclocked with 32Gb DDR3 for web browser, email
  • Pentium G3258 heavily overclocked for Linux development
  • i7 5500u dual-core in laptop for client meetings

See my system build, Rainbow Unicorn, for benchmark info.

If you already have a 6700K, no need to upgrade to the Xeon 2658. However, if you haven't decided on your CPU yet, the Xeon 12 core is a solid choice. If you're using an ATX form factor, consider getting a dual-CPU motherboard for potentially expanding to 24 physical cores in the future. It's a ton of fun to use.

I have a small 3% overclock on the Xeon by adjusting the base clock up and it's stable.

Case

Great case for the price.

Comments Sorted by:

matoka 2 points 25 months ago

THANK YOU THANK YOU FOR THE BANANA SCALE!

dthomp87 1 point 28 months ago

how is that Xeon working out for you?

codetricity submitter 1 Build 1 point 28 months ago

So far, so good. In general, it runs cooler than an i7 and is smooth. The over all experience is quite good.

Single core performance is considerably slower than my 4790K. The Xeon also can't be overclocked. The 12 cores are great for rendering.

I plan to use the Xeon myself for a few weeks and assess if I should upgrade to 64GB of RAM and M.2 PCI before I move it downstairs to my kids' table. That will be the acid test of whether they want to use the Xeon or the 4790K for their video editing. I think they'll want to make the switch. One of the main goals of the build is to improve on the limitations of the overclocked 4790K on an ITX board and make the user experience more fun. Honestly, I'm not sure if it will achieve that goal as I have not moved it to their desk yet.

Overall, I think that the Xeon is probably slightly better than a quad core 6700K (the newer version of the 4790K), but probably not as good as a i7-6800K 6 core for video editing. For gaming, I would recommend the 6700K.

I am actually surprised at how good the 4790K is for video editing. I'll have a better opinion on the Xeon after a month or two of use. So far, I'm happy with my strategy of using the 2011-v3 socket, X99 chipset. The 12 core Xeon is $250 cheaper than a new 6800K, but the 2011-v3 X99 ITX motherboard was pretty expensive at $250. I usually buy boards in the $150 range.

534n888 1 point 23 months ago

Can you plz tell me your cpu revision? I want this cpu to, but i am worried about mobo compatibility issues

codetricity submitter 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

How do I find this information? I actually took the CPU out of my computer and am running a 6800K right now to experiment with overclocking.

For the Xeon 2658, CPU-Z says it is E5-V3

The chip has this on it C324A195 e4

It's a good CPU. I recommend it. The only reason I swapped out the 12 core for the 6 core 6800K is that single core performance is a little slow and certain applications only use one core. I may build another system with the 2658 12 core. No problems after months of use.

534n888 1 point 23 months ago

for example it is "QEYF" that is an es 2658 v3 or the real thing is "SR1XV"

codetricity submitter 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

Intel Xeon E5-2658 v3 ES QEYP LGA2011-3 12-Core

It's an engineering sample, I got from eBay used. No problems with stability, heat, or reliabiity. I used it for 4 months as a daily-use workstation. I only changed because there was a sale on the 6800K on Thanksgiving Day. If I were to do it again, I wouldn't have spent the money on the 6800K as the performance difference is negligible in real-world use. I suspect that a better use of my money would have been for a 1TB or 512GB M.2 NVME PCI SSD. Intel has one for $365 on Newegg. If you do go for the Xeon 12-core, I'd be curious to learn what your experience is like. I primarily wanted the power for video rendering and 3D modelling. It kicks butt for those uses.

534n888 1 point 23 months ago

I am new so I am wondering about ES cpus working as exactly the same thing as the real thing, so i can have a cheap 12 core build

codetricity submitter 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

The ES CPUS are slower and possibly less reliable since they're made for prototyping equipment. If you go for a 12 core build, make sure you're expectations are in line with the limitations. It is much slower than even a Pentium 3258 for single core things. For example, if I just start a browser or normal program, the startup time is faster on the Pentium 3258 and the Pentium generally feels snappier. I have the Pentium overclocked quite a bit.

It's only when you have a lot of stuff going on at the same time that the 12 core power kicks in. For example, video rendering while streaming, while browsing the web is possible.

Unless you have an edge use case like I do, then the i5-6600K overclocked is going to be the best bang for the buck. The i5 is $239. The Pentium 3258 is $75. The Xeon E5-2658 12 core was $160 used.

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RScientist 1 point 27 months ago

Hi,

Is it possible that the price provided for the xeon processor is wrong? or the name is wrong? because the listed price on amazon for the processor is 1800$+, whereas the price listed here is 160$. Can you please provide a link?

codetricity submitter 1 Build 2 points 27 months ago

Search on eBay for a used CPU. There's tons of CPUs out there used. I didn't want to put the full retail price on it as I thought it was misleading since I actually bought an used CPU. If you take this route, you might also consider the E5 2690 v4 14 core at 2.1 GHz.

The E5 2658 was the cheapest used processor I could find that I suspected would yield performance above my current 4790K overclocked. Also, this was my first experience buying a used CPU. It's a hobby. I can easily swap it out for 6900K if I suddenly win the lottery. The 6900K is a better CPU, so if you want to buy new for warranty reasons, go for the 6900K or the 6950K and not the 2658. The clock rate of the 2658 is slow, but it's cheap used and good-enough.

Also, the Xeon 2658 is going to be slower than a 4790K (or 6700K) for gaming. So, it's not a great CPU for gaming unless you're already committed to the X99 motherboards for a future upgrade path.

brandon0809 1 point 26 months ago

I'm guessing the CPU is probably a ES. Have you had any problems with it? Dead cores, temperatures ect...

nakaman 3 Builds 2 points 26 months ago

My Es didn't have dead cores. And temps are very cool. But even an 18 core Es won't come cheap for mine was 600$ for a great condition.

codetricity submitter 1 Build 1 point 25 months ago

I just checked out your kick-*** build. Awesome. Do you use the 18 core Xeon for graphics? I've been doing more Unity programming and manipulating 3D graphic textures. The 12 core Xeon is working out great. I am using it as my daily driver now.

BTW, saw that you had a problem with using the HDD and SSD together with Windows 10. Try disconnecting the HDD and boot only from the SSD (or install if it's a clean install). Once Windows 10 is fully installed and updated, reconnect the HDD SATA cable and it may work.

nakaman 3 Builds 2 points 25 months ago

Ok I'll try that it shouldn't too hard and it is meant for running some Cad programs. Right now it just supplies 4K at good frames

codetricity submitter 1 Build 1 point 26 months ago

yes, it's an ES. No problems with dead cores or temperatures. It runs cool. The main issue is that the CPU can't be overclocked and the single core performance is maxed at around 2.4Ghz. If you have the cash, I would go for the 6800K, which can be purchased on sale for a bit over $410, depending on shipping and tax. If you want to save $250 and don't mind slower performance for applications that only use a single core, then the 2658 is working out great. Certain applications use only a single core and those run slower.

I think it really matters how much time you spend with video rendering or multi-threaded applications. If you into scientific visualizing, the 12 cores are great. If you're a gamer, the 6700K is going to be better and you can use cheaper motherboards if cost is a factor. If you're got extra cash, then the 6800K is probably better overall with much higher single core speeds and a solid 6 cores. Also, unless you really want something small, I think I would go with a microATX.

Your main question about the CPU - it's stable and solid. I use it every day as my main workstation now. I use temp sensor and monitoring software several times a week to test the system. I haven't transferred it downstairs to my daughter yet. She's still using a 4790K.

bk86a 1 point 25 months ago

The 64GB of memory can be a problem. In the description of the motherboard it's clearly stated is supports 32GB maximum. Have you found some way to overcome this limitation?

codetricity submitter 1 Build 1 point 25 months ago

On the Asrock site, max memory is listed as 128GB. See this:

http://www.asrock.com/mb/Intel/X99E-ITXac/?cat=Specifications

From their site: - Max. capacity of system memory: 64GB (with Core™ i7 CPU) or 128GB (With Xeon® CPU)*

I am not sure if 128GB is actually possible though.

I used this supported memory list

http://www.asrock.com/mb/Intel/X99E-ITXac/?cat=Memory

Near the bottom of the list is this:

DDR4 2133 32GB Crucial CT32G4RFD4213.36FA1 DS 2pcs

I do not know if 128GB is actually possible as they do not list supported 64GB sticks.

I am using that exact memory, 32GB per stick

glich610 2 Builds 1 point 25 months ago

Banana for scale

shantonu 1 point 21 months ago

I have build a similar one inspired by your post. How is your XEON working right now? I got ES CPU overclock-able up to 4GHZ (information using linux based tools).

How is your min/max power consumption for this pc?

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