Build for virtualization and gaming

So i am thinking of doing a new build i would like some information and opinion. Unfortunately i dont have money to piss away that i can afford to try each situation.

Use case: 2 VMs running at the same time,linux host, one windows 10 and one OSX. I use would like to use windows for gaming and there are plenty of tutorials on how to get pass-through working. I have gotten a OSX VM working as well but this was one old hardware (3rd gen i7 laptop).

I do game with friends and like solo player games, i thoroughly enjoy them, hence the windows VM. For any other thing web browsing, office, programming i use OSX. Probably the heaviest thing would be a full screen youtube vid.

My question is not what hard ware would i get but rather what is a better choice.

Choice A:
intel 8700k

Choice B:
Intel Xeon Engineering Sample 26xx v3/v4 (Most likely the 10 core one, theres a bunch)

Choice C:
Daul xeon 2670 v1

Not really a fan of daul-booting. I understand that these are at different price points.

Oh man, this is going to be hard to get in on a low budget. Do you have a hard limit?

A dual-xeon board is going to be expensive, you might find that your money is more efficiently spent on Threadripper, especially with the passthrough issues going away.

@bsodmike, I know you have experience with TR and Coffee Lake.

First, what sort of games do you play? (this will give us an idea of what kind of GPU you’re going to need? If you aren’t playing much, your windows system could get away with a 570 or 1050 ti.

Your Linux system will probably get by with a GT710. What’s your use case for Linux?

Mac, you can probably do either a GT710, GT730 or an RX 550 (or the likes).

Hard to really make recommendations without a hard limit.

I dont know about hard limit, but i assume something around the lines of 1k max. Maybe a little more considering i am still using my i5-750 with no real problems other than 4k content and gaming.

This build will mainly include GPU, motherboard + RAM, CPU

Now that seems unrealistic considering GPU prices currently. But assuming MSRP.

Some parts will be reused such as the SSD and 750w supply.
I upgraded a prebuild and stuck a GPU and power supply in there about 3 or 4 years ago so i could game.

The kinds of games i play are overwatch mainly. But i have been really looking forward to playing witcher 3 (Recommended by multiple people), and assassins creed origins (Generally enjoy the series).

i am ok with command line linux, but i have a raedon 4650 from the build for linux host. For the Mac the gtx 660 will work out of the box, no drivers needed or anything extra.

My linux systems will probably be used to host the VMs, and probably Samba for easy file sharing between them.

For your use, out of the options listed: the 8700K in my opinion.

The Xeons will have lower clock rate which will impact your gaming performance. You aren’t running enough threads, IMHO to justify giving up the clock rate advantage of the 8700k for the Xeons with more cores at a 2-2.6ghz (at a guess) clock rate.

The 10 core Xeons of that era are low clock. like 2 Ghz from memory.

So, even if they have 10 cores, the 8700k has 6 at about 2x the clock rate. The 8700(k) will also have new instructions for things like h.265, AES acceleration, etc. that the older Xeon parts probably won’t have. Hardware acceleration on things like that can be a massive speed boost. So… in theory the 8700K should be faster at virtually everything than a 10 core Xeon of the age you’re talking about. And in lightly threaded tasks it will be dramatically so.

Just be sure to check the 8700k can do IOMMU passthrough (i don’t recall if that is something intel gimp on K series parts). If not, go for a Ryzen that can.

That’s not a problem. They work fine.

My concern with the 8700k is that it’s only a 6 core part. I’ve got a 1700 @3.6GHz and it’ll chew through any game I ask it to in a VM. I utilize all cores on my system when I’m using my VM, even though I’ve only allocated 6 cores to it because I’m using 4 threads for IO. If you’re gaming, you’ll need to allocate additional IO threads to facilitate faster access to disk, network, etc. The 8700k is a great chip, but it just doesn’t have enough cores for me to justify using it for virtualisation in 2018, especially when you can get more powerful hardware for less from team red.

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I’d also go Ryzen (or threadripper) personally, but out of the options listed that wasn’t a choice… :stuck_out_tongue:

For the same reason: core count. The Ryzen cores are fast enough, and having more of them means you can carve the CPU up into a larger number of dedicated cores.

Ryzen 2xxx will be interesting because the per core performance is going to be significantly improved.

However, the macOS requirement may hinder that. So i can see why the 8700k is listed (and intel in general). Whilst macOS on AMD may work, apple don’t make any AMD hardware and building a hackintosh you’re already getting into unsupported territory. You’d rather not make things more difficult than they need to be.

Honestly I really did consider the Ryzen (kind of hard not considering all the hype about it) but ultimately I didn’t list it as an option because Apple tends to favor Intel over AMD. Things just work better. (that may change considering the support for VEGA)

I haven’t read any articles or seen and posts of unraid or even KVM on Ryzen doing a virtual MAC. I think there is ways around it, using certain QEMU flags.

Bottomline less hacks less hassle, Then again the entire post goes against that statement.

I guess I can give ryzen virtualization a go. I know of someone who has a 1700x I could probably try it on. I have a ready to go hackintosh script should be super simple.

Assuming I go with the 8700k, would this have enough power to drive both VMS? I know RAM is a large part of it as well. Assume I have 32GB? Would an NVMe drive also be possible with something like this? or are there not enough PCIE lanes.

I think the most DEMANDING workload I can think of is 4k content (youtube, VLC) on my OS X VM and just gaming on my Windows.

Totally get that, and because you mention macOS i would very much suggest that AMD for the motherboard/CPU is a massive risk / potential pain in the butt. I just wouldn’t go there, personally (but then i have Mac hardware to run macOS on). I agree with your ruling Ryzen out for your specific use case is what I’m saying I guess. You have valid reasons.

Well, at least until Apple announce a Mac with Ryzen in it. They haven’t yet, and there’s no guarantee that they will but i do think that it will happen eventually, for no other reason than to keep Intel on their toes.

But as of March 2018 it hasn’t happened - so there won’t be any kernel drivers in macOS to drive Ryzen chipset related things. Maybe third parties can write some or whatever but you’re straying off the supported hardware list a lot further than you need to. And like i said, you’re already in officially unsupported hardware land - don’t make it harder than you have to.

OSX and VM don’t play nice. There is no USB 3.0 XHCI handoff support in QEMU, so OSX will never support USB 3.0 in a VM.

If you wanted to Hackintosh though, I’d look at X99 and seeing if you could find a good deal on a 5960X. Otherwise, a 6900K would also do.

Do not get an engineering sample “Intel Confidential” chip. They’re mostly from China illegally sold on the grey market, which then makes it to eBay. Compatibility is most certainly 30/70, with the 70% being incompatible.

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I’ve had success with running an OSX vm on skylake with a usb 3.0 controller and a 580 passed to it. This might not be the ideal situation, but it’s just what worked for me.

Can it use the full potential of USB 3.0 though? Without XHCI handoff, you cannot get the full 5Gbps bandwidth of USB 3.

I’m not sure. I was just using it for HID and a few flash drives here and there.

I don’t know enough about USB and whatnot to really speak to the details, I do know that some of the flash drives “butt-dyno’d” at over 480mbps, so it might have, but it’s hard to say for sure. This is anecdotal at the very best.

Well, at least until Apple announce a Mac with Ryzen in it.

Thing is. Even with this it will take some time for all the crap to get worked out. Just like linux. Took about a year for small bugs to get worked out. Then there is the exception if wether other applications will work on it or not.

OSX and VM don’t play nice. There is no USB 3.0 XHCI handoff support in QEMU, so OSX will never support USB 3.0 in a VM.

The crappy solution is to pass in a PCI USB card. I was initially assuming I would have to do that as well as a network card. (USB card for OS X and network card for Windows)

@FurryJackman f you wanted to Hackintosh though, I’d look at X99 and seeing if you could find a good deal on a 5960X. Otherwise, a 6900K would also do.

I didn’t want to daul boot, none the less can you elaborate more on this and why this would be a better choice?

Just a thought - have you considered an actual Mac Pro from say 2011?

They can take some pretty decent CPUs, are available relatively cheap, these days, look nice, etc. - and you aren’t breaking any laws or infringing EULAs either.

Can install an RX4xx or RX5xx card in them, and there ARE Mac games available, so you COULD game on it. Depends how picky you are with game selection.

That way you can run MacOS on bare metal and virtualise windows, linux, whatever.

I’m not sure whether you could run linux on them bare metal or not, but if you’re willing to deal with macOS as a host and gaming isn’t super super critical, macOS can do some gaming if it is a secondary purpose…

Someone may be able to chime in on Linux-On-Mac-Pro success, but if it does run the CPU, etc. should support PCIe pass-through under linux i would have thought. I know VMware ESXi can do such things and I do believe the Mac Pros are an officially supported ESXi platform (its the only real legal way to virtualize macOS servers if i’m not mistaken).

You are right. The reason I kept the gaming one so high on the list is cause my friends love to pick up the humble bundle and play some of the games. Or any random game. Chances are that windows will always be a supported platform.

Honestly if gaming wasn’t up there, my entire problem could be solved with a hackintosh or as you suggested an old Mac.

I feel like and old Mac with a xeon would be overkill since the most demanding thing is 4k youtube (I don’t actually know how I plan on getting 4k content to work). Regardless the hardware is the first step. Getting it all to work together will be another story of long forum posts.

Linux-On-Mac, I dunno how I feel about that. I know it will be a mission getting it on there. I am would much rather put up with a OS X VM, since I have some experience with that and working instances.

Maybe do a bit of a check at what games do support mac, you could be surprised. A lot of stuff on GOG does, quite a lot of newer releases do, etc.

The coverage isn’t 100%, definitely, but i’ve been pleasantly surprised by what stuff IS available mac-native in recent years.

I do think however that your macOS experience will be MUCH, MUCH better running it on bare metal than trying to run it in a VM.

Linux isn’t that demanding and can run in a VM just fine.

Windows gaming without dual boot (via PCIe passthrough) is the one thing the Mac Pro (under MacOS) won’t do (hence the discussion re: pci-e passthrough by booting Linux on it), but if there are “enough” MacOS titles there to support your gaming fix then maybe that’s the least bad compromise (IMHO). Does definitely depend if the available titles are “enough” though, and how dead-set against dual booting the box into Windows you are.