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Want a beefed-up gaming or video-editing PC with dual Intel Xeon processors for under $200? The parts are out there, but finding and putting them together could prove difficult. This article covers what parts to look out for, and where to find disused server hardware that will make for an excellent gaming platform or workstation.

Unfortunately, there are some caveats. First, these are older server processors, which means they need older motherboards and special RAM. While cheap, they’ve likely suffered years of heavy use, leading to wear and tear. Their long-term reliability might not be worthwhile. Second, if you want performance comparable to today’s desktop systems, you’ll need to use a dual-CPU motherboard (which isn’t the same as a dual-core CPU).

Linus, from Linus’s TechTips, created a video on the subject:

While Linus uses a grittier approach (he doesn’t even bother with a case), I have some additional tips on building your own rig from moldering, throw-away server components.

The DIY Junkatron Parts

The easiest method of rolling your own PC from server parts is to buy an entire server. An entire server offers 100% part compatibility (the biggest concern and issue), as well as overall cheaper cost. On the downside, shipping can be really expensive, and it’ll restrict your choice of graphics card. If any component fails, the server might also require proprietary replacement components. Most users, without access to a disused server, will probably end up buying the parts à la carte.

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The five most important components — in order of importance — are the motherboard, the case, the RAM, the power supply, and the Central Processing Unit (CPU). While all of these parts are important to performance and inter-component compatibility, I list the CPU last because once you’ve picked the other components, the CPU becomes more of an afterthought.

The graphics card is the only part we don’t tackle, as server machines typically don’t have discrete cards – but you can read about how to pick the best GPU How To Choose The Right PC Video Card [Technology Explained] How To Choose The Right PC Video Card [Technology Explained] Read More for your system, then purchase either new or used, using the notes in this guide that restrict your choice (such as motherboard and case size). Keep in mind that a decent GPU will cost more than the entire system. Something along the lines of a NVIDIA GTX 750Ti is probably the most suitable option, since it’s power efficient, inexpensive, and easy to fit in most cases, though you could also go with an AMD Radeon R7 360 and not lose any sleep over it.

The Motherboard

Selecting the right motherboard determines the rest of your build, including the case, power supply, RAM, and the CPU. The primary advantage of choosing an older server motherboard is that it may include two CPU sockets, instead of the standard single socket on an ATX desktop motherboard. Don’t confuse the CPU count with the number of processor cores. Server motherboards can offer two physical processors which boosts performance in games using the upcoming DirectX 12 (DX12) Application Programming Interface (API), which more efficiently uses multiple processing cores. If DX12 or AMD’s Mantle is used in future games, an 8-core Intel system could provide performance on par with, or superior to, today’s latest two and four core processors.

However, before you pick a processor, you must first choose the motherboard, which determines the processor socket compatibility. As far as manufacturers go, Supermicro is highly recommended – they tend to offer better operating system compatibility and often work with Linux and Windows 7. Many are even upgradeable to Windows 10. However, there’s a lot of Supermicro boards out there, with differing CPU sockets. A CPU socket determines the kind of processor that you can use.

CPU Sockets: The two most suitable sockets include  the Core 2 Duo generation of LGA771 socket and the Nehalem-generation of LGA1366 sockets. LGA771 uses DDR2 RAM or FB-DIMM RAM, whereas LGA1366 uses DDR3. Both LGA771 and LGA1366 come in dual-socket configurations. Pictured below is a dual-socket LGA1366 E-ATX Supermicro motherboard:

lga1366 dual socket supermicro motherboard

PCIe speeds: Most LGA771 and LGA1366 sockets include support for x8 and x16 PCIe speeds. However, the motherboards aren’t designed to accommodate a full-length PCIe GPU. This requires that users either find short-length PCIe GPUs or that they measure the motherboard to determine whether or not their GPU of choice will fit inside of the board.

If you can find a motherboard with the CPUs still attached, also make sure the heatsink-fan combination is included. Finding server-compatible heatsinks can be expensive.

I highly recommend staying away from motherboards pulled from pre-built units. These include any Dell PowerEdge, HP Proliant, or other similar server builds that rely on proprietary components — unless you’re buying the complete server unit, including the case and power supply.

Here’s a quick checklist of things:

  • Measure the motherboard to make sure it fits in your case.
  • Try to buy a motherboard sold alongside a CPU and RAM, which allows you to test whether or not the board works, without buying additional processors and RAM. You don’t need to take this step if you know what you’re doing.
  • Not all server motherboards are E-ATX in form. Supermicro also sells a number of ATX motherboards, which should fit into most ATX cases.
  • Supermicro provides a list of their server motherboards. Look for ATX form factor boards with LGA1366 or LGA771 sockets.

The Case

I list the case second because many motherboards can come in irregular form factors, which include Extended ATX (E-ATX). Brand new E-ATX cases, unfortunately, can be expensive, and often offer no more PCIe slots than a regular ATX motherboard. That’s because E-ATX boards tend to run deeper, rather than wider, which is suitable for a server or workstation, but not for a gaming or video-editing machine. Fortunately, server motherboards come in both E-ATX and ATX form factors.

Here’s an example of an E-ATX case on Amazon:

eatx case amazon deep cool

It’s huge and primarily designed for squeezing in a large number of hard drives. I don’t recommend buying an E-ATX case, unless you already own a server motherboard: some E-ATX form-factor motherboards won’t even fit inside of an E-ATX case.

The RAM

As mentioned earlier, the motherboard determines that kind of RAM that you’re using. Unfortunately, almost all DDR2 server motherboards require either ECC DDR2, ECC registered DDR2, or FB-DIMM RAM. FB-DIMM is a different form factor to DDR2 memory modules and this limits compatibility to special motherboards. Here’s an example of how DDR2 differs from an FB-DIMM stick:

ddr2 vs ddr2 fb-dimm

You’ll notice that they are not pin compatible. Therefore, it’s critical to pick the right RAM. An FB-DIMM stick of RAM won’t fit into a DDR2 socket; a DDR2-ECC stick will fit into a DDR2 socket, but it probably won’t work with the motherboard if it doesn’t support ECC memory.

While DDR2 RAM costs almost nothing, particularly for 1 or 2GB sticks, ECC and FB-DIMM memory are notoriously unreliable and have higher latencies than non-ECC RAM (which is bad). Above all other concerns, ECC RAM can be extremely finicky about what kind of motherboard it works with. The easiest method to guarantee compatibility is to purchase the motherboard with RAM. Alternatively, you can check the motherboard’s approved RAM compatibility list from the manufacturer’s website.

Keep the following tips in mind:

  • RAM must be used in pairs.
  • ECC DDR2 RAM is different from ECC registered DDR RAM. Most server boards use registered DDR2 and not just ECC, but it varies by motherboard.
  • ECC DDR2 RAM is not pin-compatible with FB-DIMM RAM. Check your motherboard for compatibility.
  • Don’t mix and match sticks of RAM.
  • DDR2 and FB-DIMM RAM is for LGA771 socketed motherboards.
  • DDR3 is for LGA1366 socketed motherboards.

A final note: DDR3 RAM is significantly easier to use as all DDR3 is the same form factor, regardless of its server capabilities. However, many server motherboards still require ECC memory, which can cost more than non-ECC RAM. Similarly, check the motherboard’s approved RAM compatibility list, before buying anything.

The Power Supply

Picking a power supply can also be a hassle. For those not in the know, read about picking the perfect power supply Power Supplies Explained: How To Pick The Perfect PSU For Your Computer Power Supplies Explained: How To Pick The Perfect PSU For Your Computer Most geeks interested in buying new hardware or building a new system think first of the processor, graphics card and perhaps the hard drive. These components have the most impact on performance, so they are... Read More . Pay careful attention to the total wattage of your build and the number of CPU power pins required by the motherboard.

corsairpowersupply

Dual socket motherboards require more power than single socket boards. Often the motherboard will have an 8-pin CPU power connector. This means that the power supply must also have an 8-pin (4+4), rather than a typical 4-pin CPU power connector, though you can buy an adapter cable. Regarding load capacity, most 600-watt power supplies will work for a dual processor build. For better stability, though, you might want to over-provision on wattage. Those old server boards can be extremely power hungry. You should also consider the power requirements of your graphics card.

StarTech 6in 4 Pin to 8 Pin EPS Power Adapter with LP4 - F/M (EPS48ADAP) StarTech 6in 4 Pin to 8 Pin EPS Power Adapter with LP4 - F/M (EPS48ADAP) Provides 6 inch cable length reduces cable clutter in the case Buy Now At Amazon $2.56

If you have an old (and powerful) power supply on hand, you should consider reusing it: Can I reuse my old power supply? Can I Reuse My Old PC’s Power Supply In A New Computer? Can I Reuse My Old PC’s Power Supply In A New Computer? One of the best ways to reduce the cost of upgrading your PC is to simply re-use the components which don’t need to be upgraded. Yea, you’ll have to replace the graphics card or processor.... Read More

I recommend using eXtreme Outer Vision’s wattage calculator to determine whether or not your power supply can provide enough wattage.

The CPU and Heatsink-Fan

The CPU and heatsink-fan are both determined by the motherboard (how to mount a CPU heatsink How to Choose and Mount a CPU Fan: Everything You Need To Know How to Choose and Mount a CPU Fan: Everything You Need To Know Are you looking to mount a new CPU fan? Finding the right CPU fan requires a great deal of research. Not only do different fan sizes populate the market, a byzantine maze of CPU socket... Read More ). There are four kinds of processors available to LGA771 and LGA1366 sockets. These are:

  • Core: 65nm production process. LGA771 socket. It’s the slowest of the four architectures.
  • Penryn: 45nm die-shrink of Core. LGA771 socket.
  • Nehalem: New architecture based on a 45nm production process. LGA1366 socket.
  • Westmere: Die-shrink of Nehalem on a 32nm production process. LGA1366 socket. Westmere is the fastest.

The Penryn or Core architectures are cheaper. Even so, I’d argue that Westmere or Nehalem offer better bang-for-your-buck, as they use DDR3 RAM and the LGA1366 socket, which makes finding heatsink-fans a much easier (and cheaper) process. Of particular interest is that Nehalem-EP and Westmere-EP can include hexacore (and greater) processors. These cost a fair amount more than quad-cores, but make it possible to roll your own 12-core machine. Unfortunately, not all of these use the standard server sockets and configuring around them can increase compatibility issues. I do not recommend using anything higher than a quad core.

heat sink

Some things to watch out for:

  • Dual-socket motherboards require identical processors. Don’t purchase a dual and a quad-core CPU (difference between dual and quad core CPUs What Does "Dual Core" & "Quad Core" Mean? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Does "Dual Core" & "Quad Core" Mean? [MakeUseOf Explains] At one point, our computers had a central processing unit (CPU) with a single core. These days, most CPUs you'll come across are dual core, quad core, or even octo core. We'll explain exactly what... Read More ) and expect them to work in tandem.
  • LGA771 server boards may not come with a proper mounting bracket for a heatsink-fan. This could require (as Linus suggests) a MacGuyver style DIY mounting bracket. However, MakeUseOf reader, Duke2k, informed me that proper backplate brackets are available for sale on eBay for LGA771.
  • Heatsinks on servers are designed for cross-flow (air moving across the heatsink) and may not include a proper CPU fan.

Places to Buy

eBay is the easiest and most convenient place to purchase used electronics on the Internet (how to shop on eBay like a boss! 10 Tips to Shop on eBay Like a Boss 10 Tips to Shop on eBay Like a Boss These 10 eBay tips will help you optimize your searching and bidding to save you a lot of money on the items you're looking for. Read More ). It also allows for filtered searches, as well as the tools for determining the true market price of any old server motherboard, processor, or stick of RAM. On the downside, the prices can be slightly higher than you’d expect and if any part doesn’t work, it can be a pain to return to the seller. eBay alternatives exist Fed Up With eBay? Here Are Some Worthy (And Cheaper) Alternatives For Sellers Fed Up With eBay? Here Are Some Worthy (And Cheaper) Alternatives For Sellers When you want to sell your excess junk online, where do you go? For most people, the one and only answer is eBay. With millions of daily users, it only seems logical to use the... Read More , but I haven’t used many of them.

University IT center: Many colleges and universities sell off their used computer equipment after upgrading, often for a pittance of what they originally cost. Unfortunately, they offer first dibs to current students and faculty. But if you are a current or faculty member, a university is oftentimes a one-stop-shop for getting a complete server system on the cheap. Some universities even sell their used server hardware over the Internet. Try searching the Internet for key terms such as the name of your college and “surplus” or “auction”.

Public Auctions: Many state and local governments also auction off their surplus electronics. An auction is a good way to acquire an entire server on the cheap, since you don’t have to pay for shipping. But in my experience, public auctions tend to be messy and disorganized. I recommend buying from a univeristy over a public auction.

ServeTheHome provides a really great price-tracking thread on Xeon processors. While the price on second-hand LGA2011 (a much newer socket) has been plummeting recently, they are still not as dirt-cheap as LGA1366 and LGA771 processors.

Is Building a PC From Junk Worth It?

I’d say yes, but only provided you love tinkering with computers and want a good budget project to keep yourself occupied.

Have you built a PC from used server parts? What were your experiences?

Image Credit: Installing RAM by Aleksei Lazukov via Shutterstock, FB-DIMM vs DDR2 by DmitryP0

  1. ben sewell
    August 30, 2016 at 12:23 am

    Watching this thread with lots of interest in the UK....

    Thinking of taking the plunge :)

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 30, 2016 at 12:32 am

      Socket LGA2011 is looking better and better every day. It may be worth it as the prices are now ridiculously low.

  2. Paul Freak2
    July 17, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    http://hpics.li/86ccd42
    http://hpics.li/62ec6c0

    Some specs:

    PSU: thermaltake 750W
    CPU: 2x E5640 2.7Ghz
    ram: 4x4 go + 4x2go
    mobo: proliant SE1220
    gfx: gtx 760 2go

    Don't build on the same mobo if you do this :

    No manual and propriaritary connectors:

    front usb panel hard to connect
    had to make custom fan cables
    had to customize my cpu cooler
    had to customize my psu

    if you want further photos tell me

  3. Paul Freak
    July 17, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    Build myself a double xeon E564O workstation with used part on a proliant SE122O mobo.

    I have a gtx 760 and 24 gigs of ram. Using an ssd.

    Build a case made of wood and it's working very well for 400 euros

    • Kannon Yamada
      July 17, 2016 at 4:20 pm

      That sounds amazing! Do you have pictures of the case?

      • Paul Freak
        July 17, 2016 at 6:40 pm

        Wow !
        Just finished the core part of the wood case it's not finished yet.
        Fans still missing but i can upload a picture if you want. Tell me.

    • Duke2k
      September 2, 2016 at 7:13 am

      I do see a Proliant SE1220 board going for 29 euros off the bay...
      What are you using as a sound card? The board only has 1 usable PCIe slot, which you obviously use for your GTX 760.

  4. Jeffrey Story
    July 17, 2016 at 1:14 am

    Just built one of these,
    SuperMicro Motherboard X8DTI-F $100
    Micron Server RAM 4GB PC3-10600R ECC 48gb (12x4gb) - $42
    Dual x5670 Hex-Core Hyper-threaded 24 "cores" total - $110

    So that's a 24 core/thread, 48gb rig running @ 3/3.3 Ghz beast, all for about what you'd pay for just the a skylake cpu i5-6600/6700.. I was hesitant to replace my creaky old fx-8320 setup since I don't game and and to get an intel system that was more than "is that all there is for my $500?" just did not make sense. But you cinebench cpu score going from 646 to 1370 that's $250 well spent..

  5. Duke2k
    June 24, 2016 at 6:08 am

    Thanks for putting the info together. It's quite an informative read, though not always accurate.

    * There are backplates for dual LGA771 boards, easy to find on eBay. These make mounting a Supermicro X7D series ATX board into pretty much any regular ATX case very simple. No McGyver style necessary. Pakrt # from Supermicro is SKT-0159, by the way. Same goes for the IO shields for the back of the case. Especially Supermicro and Tyan have fairly standardized IO connector layouts across several series of their boards, which makes it easy to find a suitable backplate, if it is not already included with the board. Supermicro IO shields are somewhat easier to find. Linus's video is inaccurate for the same reasons, by the way.
    * There were never any Hexacore CPUs for LGA771, this is simply a misinformation. Only Nehalem-EP and Westmere-EP do have Sixcores in their respective lineups.
    * The Supermicro board depicted above is an X8DTL-3F standard ATX board, not-E-ATX. I have one of these in a regular ATX case (Cooler Master Elite 431, to be precise), fits in perfectly.
    * You are only referring to ECC memory. Most server boards for LGA1366 require ECC Registered memory, which is different from "just" ECC. Same for DDR2 - if it's not FB-DIMM, it surely is ECC Registered. With the Nehalem-EP and Westmere-EP Xeons, ECC Registered DDR3 RAM might very well work in standard single socket, X58-based boards, because it's the memory controller of the Xeon 5500/5600 series being capable of addressing Registered memory, that makes the difference. Had a Xeon L5520 on an X58 chipset board with 6x 2 GB PC3-8500R memory, ran perfectly fine.

    I've been building dual Xeon based individual PCs for several years now, beginning with mPGA604, so I've had my share of experiences. Thought this article needed some errata, although nicely written up and addressing the key caveats to watch out for.

    • Kannon Yamada
      July 1, 2016 at 9:44 pm

      I really appreciate the corrections. I'll edit this new content in as soon as possible. Thank you very much!

    • Simas
      July 15, 2016 at 11:06 am

      Hi there, could you refer me to any one of your finished build lists. I am planning on building Xeon bases consumer system for myself. But It would be nice to have a complete finished specs of system that is geared toward regular consumer.

      • Duke2k
        July 26, 2016 at 8:05 am

        "Geared towards regular consumers" generally means, go to your local computer store and buy a complete PC or get "consumer-oriented" parts to build your own PC.

        This is slightly different, as it means to use mostly 2nd hand server parts to build a PC, for usually less money than buying a brand new PC off-the-shelf.

        Example builds done by me:
        * Supermicro X6DAL-TG w/ 2x Xeon LV 3.00 GHz SL8SV, 6x PC2700R 2 GB RAM, NVIDIA Quadro FX 580, beQuiet System Power 7 430W, Adaptec 29320ALP SCSI controller, 2x Seagate 10k rpm 300 GB HDD -- sold;
        * Tyan Tiger i7501R S2735-8M w/ 2x Xeon LV 2.40 GHz SL74T, 6x PC2100R 1 GB RAM, Matrox Parhelia PCI-X 256 MB, SB Live 5.1, beQuiet System Power 7 350W, Tyan Taro M7902 (Adaptec U320 SCSI dual channel) SDMC addon board, 2x Seagate 10k rpm 146 GB HDD -- still present / active;
        * Supermicro X8DTL-3F w/ 2x Xeon L5520 SLBFA, 6x PC3-8500R 4 GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 4GB OC, beQuiet Pure Power 8 500W, Crucial MX100 256 GB SSD, 2x Seagate 300 GB 15k rpm SAS HDD -- still present / active (this is obviously my gaming / workstation box ;-) )

  6. modfather
    June 19, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    I was gifted a poweredge r710 with 2x quad cores and 98gb ram.

    I fitted quieter fans and aftermarket CPU coolers with custom brackets to reduce noise.

    Fitted a gtx 960 that I power via the disk backplane with custom sata power adapters.

    Some raid 0 ssds and Windows 10- its fast. Plays fallout 4 maxed 1080p and encodes 1080p video faster than real time.

    Going to move it into a new chassis next.

    If your not shy of soldering it is a good project and saves cash

  7. baim
    April 7, 2016 at 7:31 am

    goodjob DIY...i try now..

  8. Paul
    April 6, 2016 at 5:49 am

    Why go to all this trouble when you can buy a workstation? I picked up a Dell 7500 for AU$900.
    It has 2 X5660 hex core processors, 24 Gig of DDR3 ECC RAM, 1100W PSU, Nvidia Quadro 5000, 2 x PCIe 2.0 x 16 slots, plus all the x8,x4, PCI slots, DVD, etc.
    It's in perfect condition, and really quiet.
    I'm going to put another 24 Gig of RAM in it, plus an Nvidia gaming card.
    I've turned on Turbo and Hyperthreading ( 24 threads ). You can turn off ECC in BIOS and download the latest performance BIOS from Dell.
    No overclocking but 12 cores at 3200 are pretty good.
    PCIe 2.0 makes virtually no difference.
    Oh, and I installed Sata SSD's. It has both SAS and SATA connectors.

    • PcBuilder
      October 16, 2016 at 1:54 am

      because the idea is to BUILD a pc. Also why spend $900 if you can build a great gaming rig with $300 or less?

  9. Guy McDowell
    April 6, 2016 at 12:26 am

    This is excellent. I learned quite a few things from this article. Good job, Kannon!

    • Kannon Yamada
      April 6, 2016 at 8:05 am

      Thank you Guy! Coming from you that's high praise.

  10. Luka Marinovic
    March 25, 2016 at 8:40 am

    There's also a limit on the graphics on PCIe x8, which in v3.0 is nVidia GT635 & in v2.0 is nVidia GT730 (actually re-branded GT630)! ;)

    • Kannon Yamada
      March 26, 2016 at 7:35 am

      I've read that PCIe x8 only bottlenecks resolutions higher than 1080p, but Puget Systems tested 4K and found no almost difference between x8 and x16 in 4K.

      https://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/articles/Impact-of-PCI-E-Speed-on-Gaming-Performance-518/#4kResults

      They tested using SLI'd Titans.

      • Luka Marinovi?
        March 26, 2016 at 11:35 am

        I was just referring that you can't go above cca 600GFLOPs card with nVidia on x8...while 750 is 1.5TFLOP card...& newer (Tesla) systems are even faster!

        • Kannon Yamada
          March 28, 2016 at 4:30 pm

          I'm silly. Thanks for the info Luka!

  11. Diego
    March 25, 2016 at 8:20 am

    Also: the money you save buying server-parts, the money you'll spend on bills.

  12. Diego
    March 25, 2016 at 7:59 am

    Servers' cpus are low frequency and not easily overclockable. You need "brute force" for gaming, that means high frequencies. It's easy to have a bottleneck between CPU and GPU.

    • Kannon Yamada
      March 26, 2016 at 7:31 am

      DX12 is showing surprising gains in multi-core systems. An 8-core PC might (I haven't seen it tested yet) outperform today's four and two core systems.

      I should have mentioned the power consumption. In countries like Germany where they pay 40 cents per kilowatt, a system that runs at around 400 watts with a normal load is going to cost a fortune over a year.

  13. A41202813GMAIL ..
    March 25, 2016 at 5:22 am

    Lots Of Cases Have Removable Motherboard Trays.

    Keep The Tray And Put The Case Away.

    Some Trays Have As Much As 11 Expansion Slots, And Are Compatible With Lots Of Form Factors.

    For Any DIY Kind Of Guy, I Would Say This Is The Beginning Of A Beautiful Friendship.

    XPOCALYPSE FOREVER !

    • Kannon Yamada
      March 26, 2016 at 7:36 am

      That's a great tip. Thank you!

      • A41202813GMAIL ..
        March 26, 2016 at 7:47 am

        Thank You For Responding.

  14. Justina Bee
    March 24, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    So cool. That YouTuber KipKay did something like this where he made a hand-held gaming system pretty easily. These build tutorials are pretty rad. http://www.mywebroom.com/room/diylover/content/13/diy-tutorials/9240636/best-of-diy-hacks/42897919/make-your-own-hand-held-video-game

    • Kannon Yamada
      March 26, 2016 at 7:37 am

      That is really cool! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Adam Wheeler
    March 24, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    I recommend buying a workstation model off eBay and pay the shipping. I recently pieced together a dual quad core Xeon workstation with 32 gigs of ram for about 150 delivered. Throw in a old HDD and a recycled HD 6950 and I'm ready for Steam on Linux.

    • Kannon Yamada
      March 26, 2016 at 7:38 am

      Excellent tip Adam! Can I ask what games you're playing and what socket you ended up going with?

  16. James Campbell
    March 24, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    I repurposed a workstation and beefed it up with mega (cheap) RAM, dual Xeon Quads, and surplus graphics card (dual sli) for $500. Works beautiful. Been using now for 2 years. Runs strong.

    • Kannon Yamada
      March 26, 2016 at 7:39 am

      Nice! Have you run any DX12 games? I'm waiting for a Polaris GPU at the moment, so can't test any games out.

      • James Campbell
        March 26, 2016 at 12:33 pm

        I'm actually not a gamer. I'm running business applications on the beast. The video cards are Quadros so I'm not sure about DX12.

  17. Guest
    March 24, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    This article is terrible. The person behind it has no idea what he/she is talking about and Linus is a moron with even less technical skills.

    • Kannon Yamada
      March 26, 2016 at 7:40 am

      I appreciate the criticism. We all make mistakes. If you have any corrections, please let me know.

    • Joe
      April 8, 2016 at 1:15 pm

      You are terrible, and not the article. The most pure definition of a troll. Someone who responds without any reason behind the negative comments. Please go back under your rock.

      The article is very well written!

    • PcBuilder
      October 16, 2016 at 1:59 am

      I laughed at this comment. Typical 15 year old with no knowledge of what a pc is. Please don't take him seriously.

  18. likefun butnot
    March 24, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    I'm an IT guy. I've been using server parts at home for ages.
    Here's a few more notes:

    1. Server Motherboards usually have a hardware compatibility list for RAM. Depending on the manufacturer, some boards will be better or less well behaved with RAM that isn't qualified for the board. You're best off getting a working motherboard that's already populated with RAM or else buying a board first and finding known-compatible memory. Some motherboards (Tyan, Supermicro) are pretty obnoxious RAM compatibility.
    If I can't find compatible RAM, I usually try Crucial modules. Crucial is willing to guarantee compatibility of their modules if you buy from them, so I'll usually go look up what modules they recommend for a board so I can purchase those.

    2. Servers handle cooling differently from desktops. The normal means of cooling a server system involves a large passive heat sink and a row of extremely high-RPM fans blowing air over those heat sinks. Workstation-class Xeon motherboards behave more like desktop systems and may offer spacing for large tower coolers that may or may not be an option on Server boards, but in any case, finding a Xeon motherboard that handles fans like a desktop is a hassle and may not be possible. If you're using the cooling systems that the server boards ship with, you're probably going to have a computer that's going to be obscenely loud and tower coolers with socket compatibility for LGA771, 1366 or "Narrow" LGA2011 commonly found on Xeon systems will be exotic and probably more expensive than one would expect.

    I tend to like Asrock and Asus Workstation motherboards better than actual server boards for my home rigs because I don't like having a machine I can hear while I'm in the shower, which is the likely outcome of buying a complete Supermicro, Tyan or Intel Server.

    3. Power consumption. Big-boy Xeon CPUs are power hogs. That may or may not be an issue. The 32-thread dual LGA2011 PC in my back bedroom costs me about $36/month to leave on all the time. That's not insubstantial.

    While I'm at it, Kwannon doesn't mention LGA2011. They're very affordable as well and can be found in 8, 12 and 16-thread variants. No one needs that for gaming and games won't take advantage of that many CPU cores, but if you want or need a test lab or do serious content creation, they're marvelous.

    4. With regard to PCI-express, most server motherboards will have a mix of 4 and 8-lane slots. They might also have PCI-X (which is explicitly not the same thing as PCI-e) slots or expect to use a riser card (so cards are parallel rather than perpendicular to the motherboard) for expansion. As it happens, many PCI-e is actually designed so that physically larger cards can fit into smaller slots as long as the back edge of the slot is open. On server boards this is often the case. You are not crippling a 16 lane PCIe graphics card by sticking it in an 8x slot. Even on gaming motherboards with multiple physical 16x slots, most of those slots are electronically 8x. The subjective difference for anything but benchmarking wankery between having a card in an 8 or 16x slot is pretty much zero.

    5. If you're running desktop Windows on your server motherboard, some stuff is going to be weird. You may find, for example, that power management doesn't work right because of differing firmware assumptions associated with the motherboard. Xeon CPUs don't have integrated graphics, so if graphics are onboard, they'll probably be pretty crummy (Aspeed? Matrox G200?). If the server is new enough to have a built in displayport connector, it probably won't support audio out from it, no matter what driver you load. You also won't have as many USB ports as you'd typically have on a desktop and you'll probably have a weird ethernet connector that's set aside for management over IP networking (IPMI) rather than normal duties.

    • Kannon Yamada
      March 26, 2016 at 8:39 am

      Excellent tips. As always, it's very much appreciated. Also thank you for adding the w to my name. :-) Apparently you know something of Eastern religions.

      I did mention LGA2011, but it's still a fair amount more expensive than LGA771 and LGA1366 builds. The latest prices show a good CPU selling for around But the price is starting to fall so rapidly that LGA2011 is probably an even better buy than LGA1366 parts. ServeTheHome shows them going for around $70, which is a ridiculously good deal.

      Also thank you for mentioning the difference between workstation and server boards. That's a really important tip and hopefully our readership checks the comments out.

      Are you based in Europe? Your power costs suggest either high 24/7 loads or a really high per-kilowatt costs.

      • likefun butnot
        March 26, 2016 at 1:34 pm

        That machine draws a touch under 660W from the wall under continuous load. It's a big computer. It duplicates a machine that's sitting at a datacenter for my hosting customers and it also hosts my storage setup and any testing systems I need. Yes, my energy rates are fairly high, but that one computer replaced four systems, so I really don't mind the cost.

  19. Jaden Peterson
    March 24, 2016 at 2:07 am

    8 Core... I thought you said 8-bit xDD

  20. Ernie Johnston
    March 24, 2016 at 12:32 am

    As indicated at the bottom of the linked page, FB in FB-DIMM stands for Fully Buffered, so you know without having to Google it.

  21. Howard Blair
    March 23, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    "...a MacGuyver style DIY mounting bracket."
    **MacGyver** - the only "Guyver" I know is an alien battle suit. LOL.

    • Kannon Yamada
      March 26, 2016 at 8:39 am

      This is the 3rd time I've made this mistake. :-( Thanks for the correction!

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