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Bonjour-lab project : 5 multipurposed workstations

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by blobster21, Aug 1, 2014.

  1. blobster21

    blobster21

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    Hello,

    I've been commisioned by my brother to build 5 identical workstations, with baseline capacity of realtime 3d rendering, and powerfull enough to handle your typical busydays workload.

    After discussing the minimum specs and whatnot, then refining several times my shopping cart to fit both bill and stock availability, i came with the following parts :

    • Graphics: PNY Quadro K2000 (VCQK2000-PB)
    • CPU: Intel Core i5 4590
    • Pc Case: Fractal Design Core 3000 - USB 3.0 Edition
    • Power supply: FSP Fortron Raider S - 550W
    • Storage: Kingston SSDNow V300 - 120 Go
    • Motherboard: Asus H97-PRO
    • Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport VLP DDR3 2 x 4 Go PC12800 CAS9
    • Wireless connectivity: Gigabyte GC-WB867D-I Wifi N, Wifi AC and Bluetooth 4.0 LE
    [​IMG]

    Those computers will handle everyday's workload at their office, and will also be relocated at customer's site (such has museums, cultural happenings, mall, etc....) when needed.

    [​IMG]

    I choosed to buy some decent looking low profile memory sticks, eventhough i'm not worried by those aftermarket's heatsinks ram clearance, since i'll be using the Intel stock cooler.

    [​IMG]

    Storage capacity wasn't all that important, some basic 200Mb/s read/write speed + the SSD's typical high IOPS are just fine to boot WIndows Seven Pro x64. Should the need arise, some additionnal drives can be added later.

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    Again, a jake of all trade CPU, more on the good side though.

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    Nvidia's Quadro serie was mandatory from the beginning, and given the hefty price for one of those entry level Profesionnal GPUs ( we're talking about 440euros !), i went for the K2000.

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    I was looking for some midrange Silver 80+ PSU, and found this one to be quite affordable (too bad it's not modular though)

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    I didn't have to dig too much to find the H97-Pro, basically this LGA1150 board has every modern features, (large USB2/3 pool, multiple onboard analog and digital outputs, some decent 7.1 audio chipset, 6 sata6G ports, 1 PCI-E 3.0 16x, an onboard M.2 slot)

    [​IMG]

    The wireless aspect should not be ashamed, with a 802.11ac dual band WIFI + bluetooth 4.0 PCI-E card and its magnetised external antenna. I look forward in providing extended wireless capacity to those computers, not only for typical wifi use, but also in a adhoc configuration to link them together on some special occasions.

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    Last but not least, i was looking for a case with maximum air flow, and found fractal-design Core3000 to be exactely what i wanted : the whole front panel is made of a metallic mesh and has a 140mm /1000RPM /15Db / 0,3A intake fan attached to it, same goes for outake fan on the roof top, and a 3rd 120mm /1200RPM outake fan attached on the back.

    [​IMG]

    My deadline is around August 17th, my brother will be back in my town from Paris to take delivery of the computers, and if everything goes according to plans (ie no defective parts) we should go back to Paris together, in order to give him and his associate a grand tour of their newly built rigs.

    i should post again pretty soon when more photos are available. Thanks for watching this thread !
     
  2. blobster21

    blobster21

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    More photos of the parts unpacked :

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    The USB cable has to be connected to a F_USB header on the motherboard in order to provide Bluetooth connectivity

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    No less than seven 3,5" hdd caddies are available ( 6 x white, and the 7th is located near the top of case, and comes in the form of a 5,25" to 3,5" black adapter, as seen 2 pictures aboves)

    SSDs have not been forgotten : there's also 2,5" mouting holes on each white HDD caddy.

    [​IMG]

    A pretty neat fan controller, designed to handle the 120mm and the two 140mm chassis fans. Each fan is rated at 0,3A.

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    That's it for the unboxing, as you can see there will be a lot of work ahead !!
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2014
  3. blobster21

    blobster21

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    First thing first : i went into the UEFI bios and modified a significant amount of settings, such as the chassis fans control method (DC instead of PWM), mass storage controller setting (switched to AHCI), enabled virtualisation technology and the simultaneous use of onboard video chipset together with the discrete Quadro GPU, etc....

    I really liked the possibility to dump all those settings into a single .CMOS file to a FAT32 key for later use, this way i won't miss any settings for the other 4 computers to go.

    [​IMG]

    PSU and SSD mounted in the case

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    CPU and memory put into place

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    I've had a hard time adjusting the motherboard due to the rear panel being coated with 2mm thick foam coating (what Asus called Q-shield): the motherboard mounting holes wouldn't align with the 6 tray stands. Technically you need to hold the case firmly with your left hand, then push the motherboard (with strength !) with your right hand against the rear panel until the holes coaxes, and....a third hand to hold your screwdriver :)

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    At that point, the motherboard and the aditionnal cards are installed, and the major data & power cables are already plugged.

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    I tried various ways to manage all the smaller cables and found this to be the most convenient, while the larger section cables are to be tied behind the motherboard tray.

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    This is the last step before putting the side panels back in place.

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    and a closer look from behind

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    What's left to do now is to install the operating system + drivers, and ask ninite to install a wide choice of softwares. Then i should be able to clone this installation for the other 4 PCs.

    Remaining credits : 4 out of 5 B)
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2014
  4. blobster21

    blobster21

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    Ok, the operating system and all softwares have been installed succesfully, and a full backup has been performed on the second partition of the SSD.

    Next, i used an external WinPE 3 bootable hardrive and a copy of Symantec ghost64 11.5.1 to clone the SSD. The resulting ghost image is approximately 30GB (that's the boot partition + the OS partition + the backup partition). It took 35 mins to create it.

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    Deploying this image to the other SSDs takes only 20 mins per SSD, using an e-SATA dock.

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    So far everything went well with the hardware i bought, i've had a slight issue with one of the fans controller that was dead on arrival, a support ticket has been created and i'm waiting for someone over at fractal-design to acknowledge the problem, and hopefully get a replacement for the faulty controller.

    I'd still recommend fractal-design cases, everything else met my expectations.

    Thanks for watching this thread, feel free to leave a comment about whatever you want !:lovetpu:
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2014
  5. Vario

    Vario

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    Good idea with imaging, one bonus of identical hw
     
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  6. blobster21

    blobster21

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    Yes indeed. And after restoring, I gave each computers a unique name within the default workgroup, and activated windows 7 individually.
     
  7. t_ski

    t_ski Former Staff

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    Just a tip: make sure the firmware is up to date on those Kingston SSDs. I have seen some issues with ones that aren't.
     
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    Crunching for Team TPU
  8. Lopez0101

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    I've been looking at putting a workstation together, but going AMD for CPU/GPU since AMD's pro cards are much cheaper for similar performance. And it's more of a 2D design oriented work load. What about the monitors for these systems?
     
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  9. blobster21

    blobster21

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    Thanks for your suggestion, they already came up with the latest 525ABBF0 firmware. Guess what : those 5 SSDs have the newer (under-peforming) MLC asynchonous NAND, and the result is unmistakable :

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    I bought one of those SSD for my own rig 6-8 months ago, and the numbers speak for themselves :

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    I'm one the one to blame though, i knew what was going on before purchasing Kingston products.

    It depends on the tasks the computer will be assigned. Studio works usually require no more than one or two 24", but several projects such as "l'expo trop fraiche", "Centre Blagnac" or "Magic Teddy" clearly need multiple screen outputs.
     
  10. Lopez0101

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    I know, the W5000 can support up to 6 screens on DP, I believe and out performs the K2000, most of the time, for around the same price. I was just curious if they're going with factory calibrated monitors or doing it themselves.
     

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