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Looking to built a Dual Xeon Hackintosh


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#1
StatQuo

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I was checking to built a Socket 2011 yesterday and had kind of a shock when I saw the power I would get. It was actually pretty close to my Mac Pro 4.1 "Dual Xeon 2.26 GHz Quad-Core". So yea, I was going to built an "Intel Core i7-3930K (6 core)" and realised that even over clocked I wouldn't get the double of power that I actually have.

I don't want to spend $2000/$3000 for not that much more power that I actually have, so I thought to turn myself to a Dual CPU Hackintosh. Though, if you guys have any thoughts about it, and know another way to make more powerful comp than what the "i7-3930K" CPU bring, let me know, but actually as I saw, it looks like the Dual Xeon is the only powerful solution here.

So here's my questions:

1. I was advised to go for 2X Xeon E5 2680, but I'm actually pretty new in kind of knowledge about CPU power, so I'd like to know what's the choices here and which would fit better inmy case (I'm working in 3D and I'm looking for really faster renders than what I actually get with my "Dual Xeon 2.26 GHz Quad-Core".

2. Talking about the case + cooler, I planned to buy a "Fractal Design Define XL R2 Black Pearl E-ATX" at first, with a "CORSAIR Hydro Series H100" for the cooler. As I saw, many people with Dual Xeon bought high priced cases, but I was wondering if the Fractal XL I was going to buy would being able to work with dual Xeon + 2 "CORSAIR Hydro Series H100"? Otherwise, which case would be good, and is the high priced $500 cases are the only way for dual CPU? Also, if any other great cooler can work with what I plan to buy and save some space, let me know.

That's it pretty much, if any questions come through the time with the help etc, I'll post it here, otherwise, thanks for the help!

#2
Mr.D.

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First, I suggest you go here to help you see the differences between the e3 vs e5 vs i7eXtreme vs whatever CPU you wanna throw into the mix.

Going the Xeon route will be harder to hackintosh than going with a core i5, i7, or even the i7 eXtreme. This is because most people don't have server class systems running in their houses. There are people, but your resources are more limited than the other routes.

With all that said - here is an example of a guy who built a dual Xeon e5 machine. I would pick his brain to see what he did and try to adapt that to your proposed rig. Just a note - he has not put OSX on his machine... but has experience with OSX on his other rigs.

and if you decide to go the x79 route, check out this page - InsanelyMac FAQ member RampageDev supports x79 configs and has had very good success with them.

Hope this helps some!

#3
StatQuo

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Thanks a lot, I'll check all this. Hope I can find answers to my questions

#4
Mr.D.

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With regards to power choices on your CPU - a site dedicated to comparing CPUs side by side will give you all the information you need, and about a metric ton more. It'll be hard to go wrong there.

I wish I could give you some advice about cases - but I, personally, believe that case choice is nearly all a matter of preference. If you can find a case that'll fit the guts for your machine, then its all aesthetics beyond that. Me, personally, I hate garish cases with tons of bling on them. I like clean lines, strong internals, easy cable management, and room to grow.

First you need to decide the server MB or x79 MB route... that'll narrow (or expand) your sizing options for a case... and possibly your cooling options as well.

#5
bonestonne

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Honored to see my build getting passed around!

To kind of give some very direct advice right off the bat, Dual Xeon is very expensive. To say that you want Dual Xeon without spending $2000-3000 is like wanting a Koenigsegg without paying the price tag.

Most importantly, the absolute biggest question is "What will this build be used for?" The second biggest question is "What is your current rig specs, and what would you need the upgrade for?"

#6
StatQuo

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Honored to see my build getting passed around!

To kind of give some very direct advice right off the bat, Dual Xeon is very expensive. To say that you want Dual Xeon without spending $2000-3000 is like wanting a Koenigsegg without paying the price tag.

Most importantly, the absolute biggest question is "What will this build be used for?" The second biggest question is "What is your current rig specs, and what would you need the upgrade for?"


Yea, actually about the $2000/$3000 price, I was reffering to paying this price to get a similar power from what I actually have. I understand the price of the Dual Xeon, and I'm ok to pay for it as long as it bring the power difference and that I see an improvement.

About the "absolute biggest question", as I said in the OP, I'm looking for faster 3D renders for an actual animated short I'm working on. My actual Dual Xeon 2.26 GHz Quad-Core are slow when I render a single frame so I'm looking for more power to render a frame sequence. Yesterday I tested with Benchmark and got a 8.1 pts for my actual CPUs. Sorry if it can look noob, but what exactly mean "rig specs"? Do you mean the actual computer I'm working on?



And out of your questions, I checked for the Dual Xeon CPU and would like to know if you guys can tell what's the power differences between these 2 (sorry if it can look clear on CPUBoss, I'm not sure of which will really bring faster performance renders between both): http://cpuboss.com/c...el-Xeon-E5-2670

Btw, thanks for the reply guy! :)

#7
bonestonne

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Yes, I'd like to know the specs of what you're currently working on. Dual Xeon 2.26ghz is nothing to sneeze at, I'm wondering which CPUs you currently have, and what motherboard.

The current Xeon E5 series is so immensely powerful stock, that I'm hard pressed to say there would be a reason to get the 8 core. What speeds are you actually getting from your current machine other than "slow"?

Also, do you have any older dual Xeon machines lying around, or just your current workstation? I'm not intimately familiar with Maya, however I know it benefits from powerful graphics cards for rendering, as well as intense CPU power. When I know more about your current rig, it will be easier to judge, however it may be as simple as investing into a much more powerful graphics card (ATI W5000 or nVidia Quadro 4000, or similar).

#8
StatQuo

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Yes, I'd like to know the specs of what you're currently working on. Dual Xeon 2.26ghz is nothing to sneeze at, I'm wondering which CPUs you currently have, and what motherboard.

The current Xeon E5 series is so immensely powerful stock, that I'm hard pressed to say there would be a reason to get the 8 core. What speeds are you actually getting from your current machine other than "slow"?

Also, do you have any older dual Xeon machines lying around, or just your current workstation? I'm not intimately familiar with Maya, however I know it benefits from powerful graphics cards for rendering, as well as intense CPU power. When I know more about your current rig, it will be easier to judge, however it may be as simple as investing into a much more powerful graphics card (ATI W5000 or nVidia Quadro 4000, or similar).


Alright, here's my specs (sorry about the french, hope you can still understand, let me know if not):

Mac Pro 4.1 (late 2009)


2 x 2.26 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
RAM 20 GO 1066 MHz DDR3
Version du système : Mac OS X 10.6.8 (10K549)
Version du noyau : Darwin 10.8.0
Volume de démarrage : Macintosh HD
Mode de démarrage : Normal
Mémoire virtuelle sécurisée : non activée
Noyau et extensions 64 bits : Non
Nom du modèle : Mac Pro
Identifiant du modèle : MacPro4,1
Nom du processeur : Quad-Core Intel Xeon
Vitesse du processeur : 2,26 GHz
Nombre de processeurs : 2
Nombre total de cœurs : 8
Cache de niveau 2 (par cœur) : 256 Ko
Cache de niveau 3 (par processeur) : 8 Mo
Mémoire : 20 Go
Vitesse d’interconnexion du processeur : 5.86 GT/s
Version de la ROM de démarrage : MP41.0081.B07
Version SMC (système) : 1.39f5
Version SMC (support pour processeur) : 1.39f5


And yeah, about the graphic card, I actually went through this situation thinking the render times will go faster but it's actually have nothing (99%) to do with rendering an image. Graphic card is for LIVE render such as when you work etc. I actually just bought a Quadro 4000 and I was pretty disapointed by what it bring. It was far from what I need. What I need is definitely high power CPU, so that's why I'm looking into Dual Xeon.

Let me know your thoughts

#9
bonestonne

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Maya has the option of using a third party render application, while I haven't ever had to use something like this myself, I'm sure there are applications that would be able to make full use of the immense power of a graphics card.

There are a couple things I would do in your situation:

1) A new Dual Xeon is not going to give you a massive boost in speed alone, so I would save some money and stick with the Xeon E5 6-Core, not the 8 core models. I use a 2620, The 2640 is also a pretty good model. I honestly wouldn't spend more than $1000 per CPU, because you have a trick up your sleeve anyway. Air cool them. Pick a cooler that will fit on the motherboard, pick a case that will fit the coolers. This is the most complicated part to building a really good dual Xeon rig. I see too many that are entirely too loud, and I hate it. I build silent computers for a reason, and in my Dual Xeon rig, my WD Velociraptor is the loudest component. You may want to look into Velociraptors or even Solid State drives for an additional speed boost.

2) Registered ECC DDR3 is going to be your best friend, 32gb is a good start. You'll probably move to needing more in the future.

3) Tyan, Supermicro or Asus motherboards. I'm not sure what's available in your area, so it will take some shopping around. You'll need a reliable but beefy Power Supply for this. 750W is more than enough. Antec, Seasonic, BeQuiet or Enermax. Those are the big names for the highest quality power supplies. You don't need more than 750W, so don't listen to anyone who tells you you'll need 1000W or more.

4) If you've got a Quadro 4000, you can make use of it in the new build hopefully.

5) Once you've got the new build completed, you're going to want to find a really good Gigabit Network switch. Enterprise level Netgear switches are extremely fast. Pricy, but worth it. Set up your Mac Pro as a network render machine to help spread the workload with the new machine. You will see an immense boost in render times far beyond what the 8 cores are going to give you, while saving $800-$1000 just on CPUs. If you have other older Dual Xeon machines, add them to your render cluster. Designing a good render farm is by and large the absolutely best way to speed up render times. Just buying a new machine may speed up the process a little, but it will not give you the drastic change that you're looking for.

#10
StatQuo

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Damn thanks a lot for that post!

Alright, I see what's the best then, so making a render farm will be better than buying a high CPU performance comp.

On a side note, I actually returned the Quadro 4000, I was looking to buy a GeForce GTX 670 instead, which seems "better" for quality/price.

A huge thanks about the render farm, I guess it'll be the deal here.

#11
bonestonne

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GTX670 is a plenty good card. I opted for a GTX660Ti for lower power consumption. The nVidia Quadro series is honestly incredibly underpowered for what it is, so I think it's okay that you returned it. For actual workstation graphics, the GTX series is way more powerful when you need the CUDA platform as part of the software. When CUDA isn't a dealbreaker, the AMD/ATI W5000 is probably the best bang for the buck card you could get.

I would definitely shop around for either Asus DirectCU, MSI TwinFrozr, or Gigabyte WindForce OC models because they have far superior stock cooling than the reference model, and it will be incredibly beneficial.

I would suggest shopping around for workload distribution software, it's important to determine what's best for you. I have Apple Qadministrator on my laptop, but I do not have an active cluster created, and that was specifically used at my old school in a small Final Cut Studio cluster. For clustering Maya renders, you should look specifically into what will work best for that. I've heard of people using Backburner, but again, you should look into what is best for you.

#12
3.14r2

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I'd like to add my few cents if I may :)

I've had a dual Xeon workstation (the old ones, pre Core architecture). This was assembled from an Intel provided components. i.e. A case with PSU (600W; the case was actually manufactured by Enlight for Intel; PSU by Delta) and an Intel MB. Although it (the workstation) was huge and had loud fans, it all (MB, case, PSU) matched together perfectly and there were plenty of space for aftermarket parts like Thermaltake fanless heatsinks, Nvidia 8800GTX card and 6 HDDs.

Although Intel provided cases may not look cool, but you could actually save few coins when buying a manufacturer provided kit (MB+case) versus buying a separate components from different vendors. IMO

It's just my personal preferences, but I'd go for Intel made MB. These boards are usually well designed, are reliable and do work perfectly in OS X.

#13
Mr.D.

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That is an excellent point TRO - building server class machines can be dodgy as a pro-sumer. When I used to have several servers running at home, they were Dell and HP rigs. I never had top of the line, nor did I have any enterprise support - but I had one machine that was made by one company that I could get replacement/upgrade parts from one place for. And the cost was with in 3% of doing it myself. Those rigs couldn't run OSX, but this is also in the pre-Intel mac days and I had my own Apple built dedicated G3s. There is a lot to be said for sourcing your parts from one manufacture.

Of course - if you like a challenge, then have fun with it! Personally, I like AMD CPUs more than Intel, but I knew I wanted to run OSX and I didn't want to fight that battle. I also like ATi/AMD GPUs over nVidia - that battle I chose to fight.

... and I hope you didn't mind me pointing the OP in the direction of your rig Bonestone - its a well done system and I hoped the OP could get some good direction and tips.

#14
bonestonne

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Mr. D, I didn't mind at all, I think it's important for the collective to share and collaborate, and if one idea is out there, by all means, it may not be the dream of someone else, but it's a great place to start!

For myself personally, because I work in a computer shop, having the support is irrelevant to me. I have warranties on the parts, so that's all I really need in case of a failure. This may not be the same case for many others.





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