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Motherboard Recommendation

Posted on 2009-02-18
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I am considering putting together a dual processor 64-bit Windows computer. Are there any drawbacks to a 64-bit computer other than drivers for the hardware? Will all of the 32-bit software run on 64-bit computers?

Would you make a recommendation for components for a powerful workstation. I'd like a suggestion for a dual processor motherboard with capacity for 16 gigabytes of RAM or more. also I would like recommendations for a good quad core processor as well as RAM type. I would like top quality RAM.
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Question by:JoshOdom
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by:Callandor
ID: 23675485
The main drawback is the lack of 64-bit drivers, but if you are willing to live with a basic computer for now without a lot of external devices, it will work.  If you're using Vista, the drawback is also the large amount of memory consumed by the OS, which can be reduced with a little work eliminating special effects.  Pretty much all 32-bit software will run on it, but old 16-bit software will not.

When you say dual processor motherboard, do you mean two sockets?  That would limit you to server motherboards and Xeon processors, since two Core2 Duo cpus can't run together, but they are just as powerful in the quad models.  Server motherboards also require more expensive ECC RAM.  If a single quad will work for you, a Q9550 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115041 with a Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P motherboard http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128358 and 4GB RAM http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145184 would be a good combination.

If you really need 16GB, then you will have to move up to a server motherboard, as you will need more than 4 memory modules and ECC will be necessary to maintain stability.  At that point, you will also have to spend for the more expensive Xeon quad processor to go with it.
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by:JoshOdom
ID: 23677583
The only external device would be a hard drive storage unit with raid. I use Windows XP Pro and will go to Windows 7 when it comes out. I was thinking of dual processors -- translate that dual sockets. That means dual quad core processors. The ECC memory would be okay. The server motherboard would be okay. I have a case for it.
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by:Callandor
ID: 23677786
Okay, but if you're not a corporation spending the money for a server, building a server with true server components will cost you much more money, because server components are designed for 24/7 operation and redundancy.  Looking at the Xeon processors, what range speed are you considering?  The faster the processor, the higher the cost - here's a benchmark comparison for different models: http://www.cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html (you are looking at dual Xeon models; I ignore the AMDs because for the same number of processors, they are not as powerful and I assume you want eight cores for more power).

Here's an explanation of the model numbers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xeon#Quad-Core_and_Multi-Core_Xeon (in general, the ones with the faster FSB are the later 45nm models).

Also, what applications are you planning to run on this?  A database server is configured differently than a compute server or a web server.
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by:JoshOdom
ID: 23677995
Dragon NaturallySpeaking consumes a lot of memory to perform really well. I back up the C drive every night with Symantec live State recovery and do a virus scan. When these run they consume 100% of my resources and I can't do my work. I would like to pause them but don't see a way to do it. Maybe I'm missing something.  This is a home business workstation.
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by:Callandor
ID: 23681884
For a single user, a true server setup would be overkill.  I think the quad Q9550 with 8GB RAM will do the job and not break the bank.  For comparison, what hardware are you using now that is being brought to its knees?

From the software side, I would also stay away from Symantec software, as it has a tendency towards bloatware these days.  I use Acronis True Image for backups and it creates snapshots that are easy to create and restore and does not bother me at all while it is working.  Better, less intrusive malware scanners are also available, and many of them are free, such SuperAntispyware, Grisoft AVG, and Malwarebytes AntiMalware (you should use more than one, because one can't catch all of them).  I don't think you need to solve this problem with a server.

You should read this article, because apparently DNS needs either tweaking or an update to work in Vista64: http://techsidestories.com/2008/11/13/free-update-dragon-naturally-speaking-10-for-vista-64/

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by:JoshOdom
ID: 23682989
Here's the history behind this. Someone convinced me to get a Mac Pro. It had two quad core processors and eight gigs of RAM expandable to a lot more. 64 bits.I was impressed that I could have dozens of programs running at once, but I couldn't adjust to the Mac operating system and software after running Windows for 15 years. The Mac was driving me nuts.

My computer runs fine during the day. Sometimes at night I can't sleep and so I want to work on my computer to pass the time. But during the night my scheduled scans come on. Nod 32 is doing it's scan. That really consumes resources. I'm doing a backup of my C Drive. Malwarebytes is doing its scan. My remote server is being backed up. And on and on. And my C drive has a ton of stuff on it so this process goes on all night. During all of this my computer is useless.  I use my computer for a home business and I have to keep it running in tip top shape.  One tech told me that I could build the equivalent of a Power Mac for less money and keep my windows. We did a rough estimate of the cost and was about $2700. No problem there.

Maybe if we think out of the box we could come up with a solution.
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by:Callandor
ID: 23684056
The PowerMac is running Intel hardware and you could easily get a Dell Precision 690 configured similarly with two quad cores, 16GB RAM, and a RAID 10 storage system to handle your needs http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/precn_690.  RAID 10 is the optimal balance between performance and redundancy, and I would suggest segregating your OS on a mirrored separate drive so that virus scanning is restricted to that.  This is in fact how most servers are set up and you can do the same.

You could also keep your MacPro and install BootCamp: http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/bootcamp.html.  This will let you run Windows and any Windows application underneath it.  I saw a demo of this and was very impressed with how it worked.  You won't have too many choices about the disk layout, though, because it seems to create a partition on the Mac drive.

The question of your application is a problem: there does not seem to be a 64-bit C++ runtime, so DNS version 10 is unable to run on Vista64.  You can run version 9 with the msi modification in the link I provided, but it's not officially sanctioned by Nuance.  The only other choice would be Vista32 and the 4GB limit.
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by:JoshOdom
ID: 23684799
Thank you so much. This is fascinating. What is DNS?

I want to be clear about this no matter what computer I use. Put the operating system on the C drive and the D drive would contain the program files and my documents? And under those circumstances there would be no necessity of scanning the D drive? And the D drive could be a partition on the first physical hard drive? Are you saying that viruses would be unable to infect things not on the operating system as long as they were on a separate virtual drive? Or perhaps they could infect the data but not do any harm.

My Power Mac has an emulator program that is superior to boot camp. You can switch back and forth from Mac to PC instantaneously. I had trouble getting the network to recognize the Windows however. Is this an inherent limitation of the system or was I doing something wrong?
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by:KrazyRhino
ID: 23685945
@ Callandor from comment #1 "The main drawback is the lack of 64-bit drivers, but if you are willing to live with a basic computer for now without a lot of external devices, it will work" This is not 2005 95% of external devices work with x64 OSs.

"Are there any drawbacks to a 64-bit computer other than drivers for the hardware?" The main drawback is you have to think before you click a download now as 90% of software defaults to providing the 32 bit version, though a 64 bit version is available. Also there is the fact you will have 2 browsers now, due to needing a 32-bit one for flash support (because adobe can't get off its butt to catch up to 2005) and for silverlight (which is odd that microsoft won't release a 64-bit silverlight anytime soon), and the 64-bit one for the parts of the internet that aren't stuck in the 32-bit stone age.

"Will all of the 32-bit software run on 64-bit computers?" Simple answer, no, longer answer is again, 90% of software will work, but it is a hit or miss basis and not consistant across a type of software or a brand even.

"I would like top quality RAM" seeing as only two companies actually make the chips and the rest just put them on a small board you should be okay there. While years ago it was a big deal what kind you got, these days there are too many standards that remove the worry.

Just wondering by why do you need dual-processor? because your question "I'd like a suggestion for a dual processor motherboard with capacity for 16 gigabytes of RAM or more" Any i7 board supports up to 24GB of ram (DDR3 even), but they are all single chip. Typically only servers uses dual chip boards and they are best bought as a whole unit rather than parted together (the support is a wonderful thing).
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by:Callandor
ID: 23686286
DNS = Dragon Naturally Speaking

KrazyRhino,

Did you look up the link I posted to regarding DNS?  It's not 2005, but there are still things that don't work on 64-bit, and the asker's main application happens to be one of them.  Regardless whether it's a device driver or a C++ runtime (or Silverlight, as you noticed), it's not a slam dunk - sorry if my lumping them together caused confusion.

JoshOdom,

I don't think you are constrained by cpu, and like KrazyRhino also noticed, it's probably not what's the problem.  From what you described, it's the simultaneous disk access that is locking you out, and that can be fixed with a better disk subsystem and drive controller.  I recommend putting the OS and program files together on C, as they are the executables.  No need for antivirus or malware scanning of data, since they are not executed, and I would keep them on a separate partition for that reason.

An emulator program would reduce the performance of Windows, compared to a native version.  I suspect the network issue may be related to the emulation, because normally Windows drives are very easy to share, provided you set them up to be shared (by default they aren't).
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by:KrazyRhino
ID: 23687053
Silverlight does work on x64 it just don't work on the 64 bit IE (xp x64, vista x64 and windows 2008 x64 all have 2 IEs installed, one 32 bit one 64-bit) so please keep that comment in the correct context.

My comment on it not being 2005, is that most DEVICES since 2005 have been written with x64 drivers just sometimes you have to dig, and other times the manufacturer gives the wrong info saying that it isn't compatible when it is (like the sandisk sansa claims it wont work on x64 but it does if you install it with the mass storage driver rather than the media player driver).

The reason 64-bit processing still has a SMALL bit of issues is due to the perception there is too much incompatibility, the more people realize and research the REAL story the sooner 32-bit will go the way of the dodo (also the sooner we all force ourselves to 64-bit they will work on 128-bit and the race will be on for amazing!).
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by:KrazyRhino
ID: 23687060
As to the DNS comment, I know very very very very very little about the program and haven't used it in about 12 years so I choose not to comment on things I know nothing about.
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by:JoshOdom
ID: 23687403
Well I think I've solved the problem with your excellent help.  I have several computers in a network array. One of them doesn't run at night. I'll put an eight drive external enclosure with raid 10 and 8  1.5 terabyte drives on that computer. I'll follow your advice and segregate my operating system and program files on a separate partition so that will make short work of all of the scans. It will also make short work of the backup of the C drive. As a result, the burden on my primary workstation will be infinitely lighter. So I'll sell my Mac Pro, obtained on the advice of a misinformed computer tech, and forget about building a supercomputer. I do need the mass storage because I have a huge amount of data to back up. So I think the hardware problem has been solved.

Let's turn to software. I have been using Symantec live State recovery for an image backup of my C drive as well as Genie backup for my e-mail. I've switched from Outlook express to Outlook. Generally problems take time to happen so if I restore my C drive I'll use a backup that is several weeks old and then used Genie for up-to-the-minute data. Somebody mentioned that they didn't like Symantec live State recovery and I would be interested in your recommendations.

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by:Callandor
ID: 23687766
For imaging, I use Acronis True Image, which comes in a home version as well as enterprise versions - you get the benefit of their research and development.  You can perform scheduled backups and incremental backups and you can mount an image as if it were a drive and read data from it.

If you're going to use a network with massive storage spread around, make sure you have gigabit switches and network cards - you will see a dramatic improvement over 100Mbit.  Get a dedicated RAID card with its own processor like Areca or 3Ware or LSI, and continue to make backups of critical data (RAID is not a substitute for a real backup; it only keeps you going in the event of failure).
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by:JoshOdom
ID: 23688495
I have a server at a remote location. If I get the enterprise desktop edition, can I back up the remote server. The server company does backups every night. I would simply copy these nightly. There are two things to back up, the database and the images. I have never done this before so this is new to me.
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by:Callandor
ID: 23688613
You don't need the enterprise edition, unless you're running a multi-user server.  As a small business, you could probably still use the home edition http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/products/trueimage/, but you could easily use two copies if that's required (they're not expensive).  If your database is an SQL Server database, they have a database backup utility for small businesses: http://www.acronis.com/enterprise/products/ARSQL/.  There's a free trial download that you can use to try the product.
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by:JoshOdom
ID: 23688633
I'm not sure what a multiuser server is. The website is www.freeworldu.org. It offers free K-12 education to everyone in the world. We have over 13,000 registered users. A recent survey that we took showed that the education method was 7.3 times faster than traditional classroom methods.
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Callandor earned 2000 total points
ID: 23688662
Okay, I think that website would require an enterprise edition - I didn't realize the remote server was handling more than just your use.
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