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A Workstation To Grow Old With


#1

I’m thinking about building a workstation computer with the plan of using it as a primary computer for a really long time. I’ve built a number of pcs in the past, but the last one was 12-14 years ago and I haven’t kept up with the hardware changes very well, so I’m kinda feeling like I just got defrosted from cryogenic storage as far as that goes and could use some help from the better informed. I’m interested in the Asrock EPYCD8-2T motherboard with a couple of ASUS Hyper M.2x16 cards for storage. The cards are 16x pcie cards that each hold 4 nvme card drives. I’d like to use these in a ZFS array under linux and my understanding is that I’d need a board that supports pcie slot bifurcation to accomplish this. Does anyone have one of these boards who can verify whether the 16x slots can be split into 4 4x slots? I know that Gigabyte has an epyc board which can do this from Wendell’s video on youtube. I read the manual for the Asrock and it looked like it might be an option, but I didn’t get a clear answer. I also saw that this board has 2 OCulink ports. I really don’t understand this port. It seems to be a direct pcie link to connect to hard drives, but there doesn’t seem to be any drives on the market that connect to it. Is this something new and upcoming or something obsoleted by U.2? I saw there are some cables which go from OCulink to U.2 and miniSAS, but I don’t understand how a SAS drive connects directly to the pcie bus without a scsi controller in between? Any help or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.


#2

Wait till a little later this year to contemplate a build like this. Ram and flash storage is tanking. Epyc Rome is out soon. The future is bright.


#3

I read the title as “need a really slow workstation” :slight_smile:

What made you consider building instead of getting a prebuilt Lenovo or HP? Do you have a particular or interesting project in mind you can share?


#4

I don’t have anything specific planned for it at the moment. Probably a little bit of everything. I do like knowing my machines inside and out and I can also be a little picky about how a machine looks and functions. I really didn’t consider geting anything prebuilt. What fun would that be? :grinning:


#5

If you want it to last a really long time, being able to customize your choice of case for good airflow and easier cleaning, (mostly thinking about some of those hard-to-reach caps and VRM components–not necessarily the operating temps of your discrete components) and selecting quality power supplies and motherboards definitely couldn’t hurt.

Sure, you can find prebuilts that will do pretty decently with 1 or 2 of those, but all 3 at the same time is a little difficult imo, and the inconvenience and cost of replacing the component you dislike would pretty much invalidate the whole point of doing a prebuilt.

That’s also not to say that prebuilts will absolutely fail earlier–I have an old Dell Dimension XPS b600r from 2000 with a pretty ‘meh’ case in terms of ventilation (even considering the time period), and it worked with the stock PSU until I decided to replace it with a more capable PSU just last year. That’s 18 years of life, and I inherited it from my heavy smoker father! (I should really try to recap the motherboard in the next few years though.)

@IALinux Cryostasis or not, you seem like you’re pretty handy at research. Unfortunately, my storage needs are pretty basic (just a game enthusiast), so I don’t really know more about these things than you do (probably less tbh).


#6

I’m thinking about a supermicro case. It’s basically a 4u rack mount that they modified to work as a tower. I’m not really into the windows and lights that are popular these days, but it looks like they got the airflow well designed for server use. I am curious about the quality of components with Asrock. In the past I liked Tyan, Gigabyte, and MSI, but I never heard of Asrock until a couple of months ago. I really can’t see myself getting a prebuilt unless its just phenomenally better than anything I can put together. It would just seem too wierd to me. Do you have any favorites in terms of PSUs?


#7

SeaSonic, because a company good enough to make PSUs for everyone else is good enough to be purchased from directly.


For good airflow, look at the Silverstone Raven-series
For example the RV03


#8

The seasonic Prime Ultra Titanium looks amazing. That line will definitely be on my short list.

That’s an interesting looking case, but I’m not keen on the top openings. I’m afraid I’ll spill a cup of coffee or something else into it. The case I’m looking closest at is the Supermicro 743 It’s got a solid top and a hotswap backplane which I’d really like to have.


#9

Yup. And then you put it in a case with a power supply shroud and it’s gone. :unamused:

I have one of those for my main PC and another gold rated seasonic one for my home server. The ultra titanium somehow subjectively is like 2 or 3 times as heavy as the gold one lul.

It’s expensive for sure. But when you’re gonna buy expensive components anyways. The price tag does not sound that bad once you factor in the 12 years of warrenty (probably gonna run longer). Many people buy a multitude of systems over a span of 12 years. If they buy prebuilts they will have paid for like 4-6 PSUs lets say. That may very well be not that different or even more expensive summed up. And you save some electricity along the way (although, I’m also not sure how much…)