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Thread: Using a Xeon 1U rack server as a desktop- anyone interested?

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    Now with added sobriety Rave's Avatar
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    Using a Xeon 1U rack server as a desktop- anyone interested?

    Hi all,

    A while ago I needed a computer with a bit of grunt and plenty of RAM as I had a plan to run a load of VMs. A bit of ebay searching for old workstations eventually led to me buying an HP DL160 Gen 6 with 2x Xeon E5620s and 24GB of ECC- DDR3 ram- for 60 quid! I managed to squeeze in a new old stock NVidia Quadro of some description (just a basic one with dual monitor capability, it has very little GPU grunt), and have been using it as a (very noisy) desktop for the last year.

    Anyway I have always fancied upgrading the four core E5620s to six core ones, and when I saw last weekend that I could get a pair of L5640s delivered from S.Korea for £32 quid I figured that was worth a punt. Amazingly they showed up today, must have been sent air mail!

    So I will be dismantling the thing to try and plug them in, wonder if anyone is interested in any pics? Or any before and after CPU benchmarks, if you tell me what free software I can download and run?

    This is purely for my own entertainment, I almost never use the 5620s to anything like their full capability, so I will stress the 5640s even less, I daresay. However they have a one step faster single core boost speed at 2.8Ghz, will run all 6 cores at the same 2.53GHz turbo speed that the 5620s manage with 4, and all with a TDP of 60W as opposed to 80W for the 5620s, so it seemed rude not to try them. I'll be shoving them in on Sunday if all goes to plan.

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    HEXUS.staff MLyons's Avatar
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    Re: Using a Xeon 1U rack server as a desktop- anyone interested?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rave View Post
    Hi all,

    A while ago I needed a computer with a bit of grunt and plenty of RAM as I had a plan to run a load of VMs. A bit of ebay searching for old workstations eventually led to me buying an HP DL160 Gen 6 with 2x Xeon E5620s and 24GB of ECC- DDR3 ram- for 60 quid! I managed to squeeze in a new old stock NVidia Quadro of some description (just a basic one with dual monitor capability, it has very little GPU grunt), and have been using it as a (very noisy) desktop for the last year.

    Anyway I have always fancied upgrading the four core E5620s to six core ones, and when I saw last weekend that I could get a pair of L5640s delivered from S.Korea for £32 quid I figured that was worth a punt. Amazingly they showed up today, must have been sent air mail!

    So I will be dismantling the thing to try and plug them in, wonder if anyone is interested in any pics? Or any before and after CPU benchmarks, if you tell me what free software I can download and run?

    This is purely for my own entertainment, I almost never use the 5620s to anything like their full capability, so I will stress the 5640s even less, I daresay. However they have a one step faster single core boost speed at 2.8Ghz, will run all 6 cores at the same 2.53GHz turbo speed that the 5620s manage with 4, and all with a TDP of 60W as opposed to 80W for the 5620s, so it seemed rude not to try them. I'll be shoving them in on Sunday if all goes to plan.
    Geekbench and cinebench would be good benchmarks. Or anything that HEXUS uses for benchmarks.
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    Re: Using a Xeon 1U rack server as a desktop- anyone interested?

    A recording of the noise it makes running the benchmarks

    I have yet to find a 1U server I can hack the fan noise from, have you managed to quieten this one?

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    Re: Using a Xeon 1U rack server as a desktop- anyone interested?

    I just tune it out. It sounds like a jet engine on start up but once it posts, the bios slows the fans right down. Kids of today are spoiled by near silent computers IMO, back when we only had 60mm fans and rubbish aluminium heatsinks to cool our overclocked-till-the-pips-squeaked Socket A Durons we got used to a bit of noise

    In all seriousness though, it does look as if you could run it near silently by removing the lid, ripping out the bank of 40mm Delta screamers and plonking a couple of 120mm fans on top of the processor heatsinks. Whether that would cause the bios to have a conniption I don't know, and CBA to find out!

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    Re: Using a Xeon 1U rack server as a desktop- anyone interested?

    Kids of today don't know quiet, my first computer:



    No fans needed to cool 1.78MHz of Z80 processing power, just the sqeak of the cassette tape when loading programs

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    Re: Using a Xeon 1U rack server as a desktop- anyone interested?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rave View Post
    ... In all seriousness though, it does look as if you could run it near silently by removing the lid, ripping out the bank of 40mm Delta screamers and plonking a couple of 120mm fans on top of the processor heatsinks. ...
    When I was running a 2U project box for my recording rig I used a 45W Athlon X3, the heatsink part of an old AMD 65W stock cooler (the aluminium square of suck kind), and a 140mm tri-cool exhausting air straight out of the top of the box. Even on the slowest fan setting the CPU didn't get above 60C, so I'd guess you could probably mod something similar with a couple of fans to tame the Xeons - in a 1U case you could probably just cut blow holes above the CPUs and then mount the fans externally?

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    Re: Using a Xeon 1U rack server as a desktop- anyone interested?

    That would probably work OK, but as you'll see from the pics when I get round to doing them, the bank of fans blow air through right from the front to the back, so removing them but leaving the lid in place might result in a lack of airflow elsewhere. It probably wouldn't cause a problem with stock clocked server gear unless you were really thrashing the hell out if it all, but removing the lid entirely would be better if you were going down that road, I reckon.

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    Re: Using a Xeon 1U rack server as a desktop- anyone interested?

    Server cases are designed for front to back airflow, so a couple of big "in" fans modded into the top of the case near the front and an exhaust fan near the rear might work if the internals are laid out for it. There's usually just so little space to work in though.

    I have seen "quiet" 40mm fans advertised, but I'm guessing that's relative to the screams like a banshee ones and still not actually quiet. Easier to just go 2U/3U to start with.

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    Now with added sobriety Rave's Avatar
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    Re: Using a Xeon 1U rack server as a desktop- anyone interested?

    Got these in today finally, fairly quick job in the end. I'll post some pics up when I figure out how. I seem to have managed a more than 50% performance increase in Cinebench, which is the only benchmark I ran on the old procs before removing them.

    However I can't seem to get Turbo Boost working properly on the new processors. It's definitely enabled in the bios but loading all the cores up with Cinebench or a P95 torture test sees them stay resolutely at 2.27GHz according to Task Manager and CPU-Z. Anyone got any ideas? Even with a single core load it tends only to flicker up to 2.67 occasionally rather than staying there. I'm pretty sure it worked as it should have done with the old processors. I'm also pretty sure the heatsinks are on properly as CPU temp in the bios is only 30 degrees and the fans only ramp up a little after a couple of minutes of torture testing.

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    Re: Using a Xeon 1U rack server as a desktop- anyone interested?

    I'm running dual X5650 in a Fujitsu Server as my main server. The noise and heat is pretty significant but thankfully I don't sit next to it every day.

    It's impressive how cheap it was for the whole package compared to an equivalent desktop.

    Hope it works out well for you!

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    Re: Using a Xeon 1U rack server as a desktop- anyone interested?

    I’ve got a dual x5650 system, 12 cores, 24 logical! 52gb Ram, use it for running 2 VMs, got it in my garage and just RD on to it when I need it, you could do similar and use a compute stick to RD on?

    Score 9118 on cpu passmark, when I bought this about 4 years ago that was high, it’s now about the same as a 7600k
    I am the gadget man!

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