System Builds and Software Used

Our array of “in house” test systems has now been fully completed as over the forth coming months, many exciting things will be happening here that will have you aghast with awe. Both Supermicro and Intel certainly pulled out the stops with these excellent parts which in turn means we can now demonstrate with the newer peripherals coming online the best possible results. This in turn will demonstrate to you the end user just what to fully expect when you purchase systems of the like we have here in situ.

With the supplied parts on show today these main parts now form part of our “mainstay in house” test systems supplied courteously by AMD, Akasa, Intel, Crucial Memory, NVIDIA and Supermicro; which could be found in most high-end studios and enthusiast workstation scenarios. These are very reliable and sound workstation platforms which have an abundance of scope for upgrading, which we have voiced on many occasion.

With an exclusive outing of this magnitude we had to sit back very carefully and decide what to use. After much deliberation we decided to move forward with our ultimate workstation builds we completed sometime back with Supermicro’s X8Dai Rev 2 mainboard which has still many reeling from the results it obtained and armed of course with a pair of the superb Intel Westmere 3.33GHz CPU’s which are without doubt superb in performance and therefore we have to show the best on an exclusive like this. Thrown into the mix as these new mainboards are just hitting the streets, we put into place Supermicro’s new X9SCA mainboard that support both Intel’s Sandybridge Xeon E Series 1280 (3.5GHz) CPU’s for workstations encompassing the Intel® C204 PCH chipset. Interestingly enough both surpassed themselves providing exemplarily results. At times we could not tell the difference when they were stacked up side by side, therefore it goes to show just how much work has gone into all of the equipment that is vital to the test.

These formulised builds used will mean that the results shown within will be extremely clear to the reader.

On a side note and very important one. Many self-build corporate and studio users maintain the philosophy to utilise one mainboard which provides them with an effective cost performance solution. Time is money as too are extra peripherals needed to supplement a mainboard. Once the mainboard has reached end of life in the usage it was built, mainboards of this nature then find them stripped down and placed into a 2U chassis as a dedicated server or render node. Therefore the life span of these Mainboards and supporting CPU’s is extremely good, which brings us back once more to exceptional value for monies. Deviating slightly the server capabilities of these mainboards are very good with so many added value features that have been listed, therefore whilst we have covered these board heavily in a workstation scenario it must not be forgot that implementation of a server will be very good indeed.

From the professional graphics cards front, taking into account the actual brief given we took to the fore the most up to date professional graphics cards from each company listed below. 

Component

Test System 1

Test System 2

Mainboard

Supermicro X8DAi Rev 2

Supermicro X9SCA

CPU

2 X 3.33GHz Intel® Xeon® X5680 Nehalem EP®, 12MB Shared Cache, 6.4GB/s QPI

1 X 3.5GHz Intel® Xeon® 1280 E Series, 8MB Shared Cache, 5GB/s QPI

HSF Coolers

2 X Noctua NH-U9DX 1366

1 X Akasa Nero 2 1155 HSF

Memory

12 X 2GB Crucial DDR3 (24GB Total) 1333MHz
Unbuffered ECC DIMMS Memory Modules

4 X 4GB Crucial DDR3 (16GB Total) 1333MHz
Unbuffered ECC DIMMS Memory Modules

Hard Drive

300GB Intel 320 Series Solid State Drive (3GB/s)

250GB Intel 510 Series Solid State Drive (6GB/s)

PCI Ex Video Card

AMD FirePro™ V7900

AMD FirePro™ V7900

PCI Ex Video Card

AMD FirePro™ V8800

AMD FirePro™ V8800

PCI Ex Video Card

AMD FirePro™ V9800

AMD FirePro™ V9800

PCI Ex Video Card

Nvidia® Quadro® 4000

Nvidia® Quadro® 4000

PCI Ex Video Card

Nvidia® Quadro® 5000

Nvidia® Quadro® 5000

PCI Ex Video Card

Nvidia® Quadro® 6000

Nvidia® Quadro® 6000  

Hardware Suppliers for the Review

AMD for the supply of the FirePro™ V7900,  FirePro™ V8800 and FirePro™ V9800

Crucial Memory for the DDR3 1333MHz Unbuffered ECC Memory, thank you for pulling out the stops here.

Intel EU for the supply of the 3.33GHz Intel® Xeon® X5680 and 3.5GHz Intel® Xeon® 1280 E Series CPU’s not forgetting the 2 new excellent Solid State Drives

NVIDIA® for the supply of the Quadro® 4000, Quadro® 5000 and Quadro® 6000 professional graphic cards.

Supermicro for the supply of the X8DAi and X9SCA Mainboards shown within the Test Systems

Noctua and Akasa for the supply of the Heatsink Fans critical to the high end Xeon systems of this magnitude

Akasa for the Supply of the Raptor Chassis for the new Supermicro X9SCA mainboard


With the support and help of all the companies involved. It gives you the reader a choice on upgrade paths that many of you look for here with the performance ratio’s the system has to provide and notwithstanding the professional graphic cards from both AMD and NVIDIA.

Systems Integrators, OEM’s and VAR’s should contact all companies directly for pricing and availability of all components. Members of the public should contact their respective suppliers requesting the parts directly. One main e-tailer that can supply the EU reader readily all the parts listed you should pop over to SCAN and see what todays best bottom dollar deal is on the main parts listed.

Benchmarks and Software Used 64-bit Mode

Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
Autodesk® 3ds Max® 2011 64-bit
SPECapc for 3ds Max™ 2011 64-bit Professional Edition

Each set of tests has been applied on the clean system hard drives shown above to ensure that no residue drivers were left installed with all updates/patches applied. A test/render has been completed many times over different periods of the system uptime. Whilst maintaining the fair play rules of SPEC® HyperThreading and Turbo Boost have been enabled, with the memory being left in its default status of Auto. Tests have been conducted in accordance with the resolutions stipulated within the test run rules of 1920 x 1080 @ 59Hz / 60Hz in 32 bit colour. Results that have been shown within this article are from the application/benchmarks first run in accordance with the SPECapc™ fair play rules. 

To maintain completely unbiased we have given a complete dedicated page to each companies professional cards throughout the test procedure and therefore remain neutral by not stacking up the cards side by side.

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