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So, you're looking to get yourself a workstation powerful enough to run virtual machines, get some 3D rendering done faster, or you just need have the need. The need for speed.
Whatever option you go for—to buy, build, or upgrade—you’ll be able to get your affordable and powerful 32 thread Xeon monster if you use a refurbished E5-2600 Series CPU as the heart of your beast. This is the key, whether you:
- 1. Look for a ready-built Dual E5-2600 Series workstation.
- 2. Build it yourself to save money.
- 3. Upgrade your existing workstation with a refurbished Xeon E5-2600 Series CPU.
What’s So Great About the Xeon E5-2600 Series CPUs?
Whether your powerhouse workstation is for data analysis, CAD, animation, 3D rendering, or for picture/video editing, you’re going to want to use CPUs from the Xeon E5-2600 Series. With 8 cores and hyper-threading, pairing two of these up with a motherboard and RAM makes for a beastly 32-threaded workstation, all for less than the cost of a newer Core i7 CPU.
The sweet spot in the E5-2600 Series is the Xeon E5-2670 with 8 cores, 16 threads, and a massive 20MB L3 cache running at 2.6GHz with 3.3GHz turbo.
With Core i7 processors it's tempting to think they would be the best performers on the market for computing needs. Yet the i7-7700 (consumer series) Series only has 4 cores, 16 PCI-e lanes, a 8MB L3 cache, and a dual channel memory that merely supports 64GB RAM. While the i7-6850k (found at over $600) only has 6 cores and a 16MB cache, the i7-6900k (at about $1,000) has 8 cores and a 20MB cache. The i7-6950k (at over $1,600) has 10 cores and a 25MB cache. With those price points for just one CPU the better deal is a dual Xeon E5-2600 Series system.
Even though Core i7s have a higher operating frequency and can be considerably overclocked, in tests the dual Xeon E5-2670s certainly hold their own in terms of performance.
So, it’s only price that sets the processors apart. While the Xeon E5-2670 and others in the Xeon E5-2600 Series were originally set at around the same price point, they’ve now become ridiculously affordable. Widely released from server use by giant internet companies, even two E5-2670s are eight times cheaper than one i7-6950x.
Look for refurbished motherboards, RAM, and CPUs that come from a working environment, decommissioned not due to non-functioning parts but to make way for upgrades. Make sure they are tested--preferably twice--to ensure you are getting re-used parts of maximum quality. And look for a money back or replacement guarantee on the refurbished parts.
If you're ready for a smoking deal, let’s look at your threaded beast options in more depth:
#1. Looking for a Ready-Built Powerhouse?
Your ready-built new/refurbished hybrid workstation should have at least 128GB (16x8GB) of RAM. Compared to the cost of all new ready-built workstations, or the frustration and time you might spend sourcing all the parts yourself, it should be a smoking deal.
Look for a versatile case that offers you the space, upgradability, and HDD bays for whatever your needs are.
Make sure to get several SSD mount points, bays, and external bays so you can store all your projects.
The power supply should be separated from the main air compartment ensuring any heat from the power supply won’t be heating your CPUs or video card(s). You will need plenty of space for liquid cooling equipment to prevent your CPUs and video cards from overheating. You’ll also need the large fans your case and heat-sinks employ to keep everything cool, preferably with as little noise as possible.
#2. What if You Want More of a Custom Build?
If you like to custom build, make these your core components: two Xeon processors, a dual processor motherboard, and 128GB (16x8GB) of memory. Add in a power supply, graphics card, storage, and a case, you should have a monster pc for way less than the cost of a Core i7- 6950X and an entire system for only a little more than just one i7-6850K!
Whether your SSI-EEB case is for a desktop or server, make sure your motherboard fits.
With a quick update of the FRU/SDR to match your fan set-up you should have no problem getting your workstation up and running.
#3. Upgrading Your Workstation, One Part at a Time…
If you're upgrading an existing workstation with a LGA2011 v1 socket you can switch out your current CPU(s) for a Xeon E5-2600 Series CPU.
The top of the range here is the E5-2670 SR0KX that clocks at 2.6GHz with a 3.3GHz turbo frequency.
If you think you only need 2.0GHz, go with the E5-2650 SR0KQ or the E5-2650 SR0H4.
So, as you can see, you’ve got a lot of options for your monster build.