New crunchers

Having retired the two Q6600 systems (still for sale!) I quickly realised I could relatively cheaply add modern hardware to get them crunching again. Motherboards are cheap, where I settled on an MSI one for £32 each. Actually, I’m surprised at the software on this. One of the utilities is an update downloader, which will update your bios and also operating system drivers for you. Saves hunting for them yourself.

But what CPU to go for? I had spare ram already, so just needed a CPU to get a system going. My first thought were the celerons/pentiums but on closer inspection they didn’t support AVX 2. My pet projects are the various LLR based ones at Primegrid, and they get a nice boost from having AVX 2 (specifically FMA that it brings). Without it, they would be severely crippled. The entry point then moved up to the i-series. i3 only had 2 cores with HT, i5 4 cores without HT, i7 4 cores with HT. Now, for LLR HT is worthless so at least I could discount the i7. But that still left me wondering about going the i3 or i5 route. My problem was a low end i3 wasn’t that cheap, but was still a big enough gap compared to an i5. By chance I found on amazon OEM i3-4150T. By being OEM it was a fair bit off a retail box, and being a T version it was lower power TDP also. Perfect.

1st system build and tested. As OEM it didn’t come with a cooler. I used the one that was originally bundled with an i5-4570S, thinking if it could cope with an i5, it should be ok with an i3. Yes, kinda. Prime finding is rather stressing so tempts floated around 65C. A bit more than I’d like. So I ended up ordering two more coolers, one for each system. These are to be fitted.

The 2nd cruncher is still waiting for its CPU to arrive. You know you haven’t had enough sleep when you seriously think, I’ll fit the heatsink to the mobo while I wait for the CPU to arrive…

Sounds like a nice little cruncher

2nd system built, and a quirk has been found.

Both systems have 1600 ram, but one of them was detected and running at 1333. Turns out the difference was it was reported at 1600 standard in one set, and as XMP profile in the other. There’s no option in bios to set XMP profile, so it set itself to 1333. I tried to manually set timings, but you do have to manually set all of them! Not sure about that. I was about to give up and play safe at 1333 when I looked in the OC tool it comes with in Windows. That lets you change even more settings than in the bios, including XMP profiles! I picked that, rebooted and I hopefully have the right settings for 1600 operation. I should stress test it next…

Thing is I was going to run these under linux long term, so that Windows OC utility wont be available in that case.

Perhaps there’s a Linux version of the utility. There are lots of tools in the community and I would bet that this issue has cropped up for someone else before. WOrth a Google to see what’s about I guess.

Well, I hope once set it shouldn’t matter if I change OS. Unless it gets wiped and I have to put it in again.

Linux mint going on the 1st of the two systems now. Temporary windows install driving the 2nd system. Can’t linuxify that until I free up a SSD from a laptop at some point. Don’t want to use conventional hard disks.