In need of a new toy

Allright so I donated my old workstation to my nephews a while back and I guess it's nearing the time to re-purchase a new one… Hardware isn't my strongest skillset nor have I followed any hardware news or latest trends so hopefully you hardware gurus will want to help out.

What I seek in a PC is durability & longevity, full linux support & virtualization compatibility since the machine will act as a workstation, editing and gaming platform & NAS all-in-one, running 24/7.
I'm primarily running linux, gonna virtualize the NAS consistently & windows when needed - mostly for 1080p video editing and some games. The price would preferably be under 3k.

This is what I've been leaning towards:

(The HDDs would be dedicated to the NAS, running in RAID1)

Most notable things required by the hardware:
- Preferably open-source driver support, hence the AMD cards
- I/O performance on the main drive
- Dual NICs
- Good 3 x 1080p performance, (I'll be running games on a single monitor)
- Its gotta beh silentz

And then a couple questions:
Can the crypto accelerator be used to improve disk encryption performance or is it only used for network traffic?
Would I want ECC memory? Maximum uptime is preferred but I'm not doing anything mission critical...


If you are willing to throw ~$500 dollars for GPU power, it would probably be better to invest in an expensive single-card solution. The R9 390X would probably fit the bill perfectly, plus you'll get a ton of extra VRAM.

Thanks for the input, thing is i'm gonna need 2 cards anyway, 1 for the main OS and the other to passtrough to a virtual machine.
The main system won't need the beefiest card on the market, it's adequate if it can handle say 2 1080p movies on 2 monitors while browsing the web on the third.
The second card could actually be of a higher caliber since it's gonna be used for video editing & gaming in windows and/or steamOS.

I heard that some people have been struggling with virtualization using an ASUS motherboard

Sound pretty much like what I built just a while ago!

Great choice going with the E5 Xeon line by the way. You can most likely eliminate the need for any kernel patches while doing GPU passthrough. Have you looked through the E5-16xx line? You often get better performance to price ratios for single socket builds.

I personally don't think Asus does well with anything Linux related although WS may be different. That board is so damn expensive too. I can recommend the board I'm using which is the Supermicro X10SRL-F. A few potential cons include the narrow CPU socket and limited fan control. Some dual socket boards from Supermicro also look good with built in dual 10GE.

I recommned ECC and generally more RAM. If you were considering ZFS for NAS, this is more important.

What raid card did you have in mind? The LSI 9211-8i plays very nicely with passthrough for NAS use by the way. It may take a bit of work to get running depending on the firmware version on the card but it has been super stable.

And with my old worstation, I was one of them lol. Sharing the same graphics card with the host & the virtual machine can be a mess on asus boards, but passing through a second card works fine

Wow that indeed looks alot better, thanks. I'll have to do more research on server boards lol.

Haven't looked for one yet, threw some random sas controller to the pcpartpicker mix to estimate the total cost, I'm assuming it would be preferable to get one that has a battery backup tho. Is it typical for raid controllers to cause issues in virtualized environments? Can't I just pass it through and be done with it? :o

Passthrough does not work with every hardware. Don't know the technical reasons for this. There are probably many. Sometimes the VM won't boot, the guest won't see the device or the guest will have issues using the device. Even firmware version on the hardware seem to make a difference.