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Old 02-20-2008, 02:06 AM   #1
Rob Williams
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Default Building an Affordable "Skulltrail" System

Intel's new dual-socket enthusiast platform is in every sense impressive, but due to the price of the recommended CPUs, owning one is a dream for many. We're taking a look at a few ways to build your very own full-featured 8-core "Skulltrail" machine for a price that's a lot easier to manage.

You can read the article here and comment on it here.
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Old 02-20-2008, 05:56 PM   #2
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Default Normal Server Bord?

What about a Server Bord like the Tyan Tempest i5400XL or any other with i5400 chipset.

They avaible for round 485 $
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Old 02-20-2008, 06:52 PM   #3
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To be honest, those boards would likely do well, but I recommended the D5400XS since it's designed for overclocking and includes features an enthusiast would want. If planning to go the with stock speeds and have no need for NVIDIA SLI, that might be a good buy, considering the 5400 chipset in itself is feature-rich.

As I mentioned in the article, an even better choice would be the ASUS Z7S WS board that could come out within the next month. It will retail for $519 and be designed for the enthusiast, so I am really hoping overclocking ability would prove better there. It also has better design and a sweet-looking RAM fan that makes all the sense in the world since FB-DIMMs get hot.
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Old 02-21-2008, 12:13 AM   #4
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Question ?!

Uh ... "most people" can afford a new 3 series say what? Seriously, take a look around man ... geez. Now there's some lack o' perspective talking.
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Old 02-21-2008, 12:45 AM   #5
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Reading back over that section, I admit I could have worded things better... or at least chosen a more reasonable car. "Most" shouldn't have been used - sorry about that.

I was in a mindset where BMW 3 series is a car that costs more than a Ford, while the same theory applies to Skulltrail. A base "budget" Skulltrail system, as built in the article, is more expensive than what most would expect for a PC, but not so expensive that it could be unmanageable, like the full-blown offering.

I could have worded that better and will make sure to better word things in the future. Why I chose the word "most", I have no idea.
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Old 02-21-2008, 09:22 AM   #6
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Fair 'nuff -- I just figured "most" may gloss over it w/o comment, LOL.
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Old 02-21-2008, 02:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Fair 'nuff -- I just figured "most" may gloss over it w/o comment, LOL.
Please register... and/or at least come back often. I like your "spunk". And I mean that in a completely non vg cat smooth moves comic kinda way.
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Old 02-21-2008, 02:35 PM   #8
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Default Comparing with dual stock xeons already running at 2.83GHz...

I am actually thinking about putting together a very similar system and my budget is indeed around $2500, so your article came perfectly just in time and right on target. The purpose of the machine in my case is image processing and computations, not gaming. Therefore in my case one 8800GT or even new 9600GT would be just good enough and no SLI is needed.

Because of that, when I looked that you had to upgrade several components to get overclockable SLI machine, in my case I could, for a very similar total amount, go with a simpler board (dual workstation - but not server - board from Tyan or Supermicro or non-overclockable Asus). The advantage of such dual workstation boards over Intel's skulltrail mobo is that you can actually put more memory as you have 8 slots instead of 4. I could also get lesser power supply and coolers since no overclocking is planned.

The saved money can then be invested back into upgrading to 2 x ES5430 (~$200 more per CPU) or even 2 x E5440 (~$400 more per CPU). As the E5430 runs at the stock speed of 2.66 and E5440 at 2.83, one can this way build a workstation that would have the same performance as your overclocked rig for about the same budget - but without trouble of overclocking...

Again, this could work for me as I am not a gamer - if one wants top gaming results as well, different story...

Big thanks for great work!
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Old 02-21-2008, 03:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
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I am actually thinking about putting together a very similar system and my budget is indeed around $2500, so your article came perfectly just in time and right on target. The purpose of the machine in my case is image processing and computations, not gaming. Therefore in my case one 8800GT or even new 9600GT would be just good enough and no SLI is needed.
Not that this wouldnt make a decent gaming machine... 0.o

Operative word being "decent" and not "High-end"
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Old 02-23-2008, 12:06 PM   #10
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I'd like to echo what Robert said -- for those who are interested in multi-processor machines at the enthusiast level, for whom Skulltrail is pretty much the only game in town at this point, this article hits the bulls-eye. Still, I can't help but think that at least for now, octal-core systems are well past the point of diminishing returns for the vast majority of gamers and enthusiasts, even at the 'high end'. The 'budget' Skulltrail rigs configured here make even a high-end single CPU, quad-core build with top-shelf components look positively frugal by comparison -- for my money, I'll still stick with a single-CPU build, unless it's just not enough to get the job done.
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Old 02-23-2008, 03:47 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert View Post
Because of that, when I looked that you had to upgrade several components to get overclockable SLI machine, in my case I could, for a very similar total amount, go with a simpler board (dual workstation - but not server - board from Tyan or Supermicro or non-overclockable Asus). The advantage of such dual workstation boards over Intel's skulltrail mobo is that you can actually put more memory as you have 8 slots instead of 4. I could also get lesser power supply and coolers since no overclocking is planned.
Thanks for the nice comments and sorry for the late reply. I agree with you and I should have actually covered that to some detail in the article. A workstation board should suffice no problem. The RAM issue is a good one too... I am unsure why Intel limited the maximum to 8GB on this board when 128GB is the maximum for the same 5400 workstation chipset.

It definitely all comes down to what you need the machine for, and in your case, what you laid out seems to make perfect sense.
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Old 02-23-2008, 04:30 PM   #12
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it would be interesting to buy 2xXeon E5410 and a Skulltrail mobo for example,instead of buying a QX9650 and an X38 motherboard.
2 very important problems arise in this situation:
1)the Skulltrail needs ECC regged ram
2)a lot of apps are not designed for running with 4 cores,8 cores would be overkill.Instead of folding and video coding,for gaming the 8 core rig is no good at all,you cannot take advantage of it.
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Old 03-02-2008, 04:31 AM   #13
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Default Question about skulltrail

your article was very interesting. That article was long over due! I'm new to your website and forum, but have been very excited about skulltrail when I first heard about it. I think your budget pc is a good one. I believe I could've cut your costs down even further. PROVANTAGE has the board for $614.45 and many times I see 850w psu for $50 (after rebates). On ebay you can usually grab the e5410 for $250 a pop. And you can still get a armor case for $100 on a good day. My question would be this. I talked to supermicro and they tell me their x7dwa-n motherboard can do crossfire, but I can not get an answer from asus for their DSEB-DG motherboard. They both use intel 5400 chipset, yet the skulltrail uses the 5400 express chipset which is suppose to be slightly different. As I mentioned before about the psu, is there a way to link 2 psu together such as in the antec p190 case? If that is possible I could easily pick up 2 850w psu and link them together for one massive PSU. The video cards are really coming down in price now. I've seen 8800gt cards for as low as $170. Also with your setup I would've assume you not go with one 500gb and opt for at least two raptors in a raid 0. It would've cost you about the same. I really dislike it can only handle 8 gigs of ram. While if I go with the asus DSEB-DG it can handle 64gb of ram. I know that board is "server" but it would be nice to have all of the features of both worlds in one board. My last question for the time being is how big of a heatsink/fan can I use on this board. I love my tuniq 120. Can I fit two of them on the skulltrail? I can't find any max size for heatsink/fan. On youtube I saw a guy using two thermaltake ultra-120 extremes, which are big, and then you used the zalman 9700. I know the tuniq is huge but it's so quiet and nice. Can all intel 5400 chipset motherboards handle crossfire? I'm sure I'll have more questions in the future about this board.
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Old 03-02-2008, 10:58 PM   #14
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I included the stock prices for the motherboard since that's what was available at the time. As far as a PSU is concerned, I wouldn't be too quick to trust a $50 PSU to power all those components. Aside from that, I included the "recommended" PSU from Intel, which includes dual +12VEPS which allows smoother power to the CPUs and is required for any sort of overclocking. With a smaller PSU, stock speeds all around should be used.

"Can all intel 5400 chipset motherboards handle crossfire?"

They should, yes, but I can't guarantee it. From a technical standpoint, I don't see why there would be a problem.

Please split up your thoughts into smaller paragraphs... that was a chore to read :-)
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Old 03-14-2008, 02:44 PM   #15
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QX9775 and X5482 are really both unlocked?

i have to know, because i want to buy an apple mac pro and take the cpu´s
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