What Hardware Should I Buy? - February 2010

February 3, 2010 | 11:12

Tags: #build #building #buyers #case #cheap #computer #cost #decision #free #gold #guide #hardware #inexpensive #live #make #new #performance #purchase #what

Companies: #bit-tech #game

Folding Rig

Since we've educated you all in what makes the perfect folding farm, we've twisted James' arm and got the in-house guru's help to spec this month's dedicated folding rig.

It's not the GeForce GTX 295 ppd behemoth that some of you have, we admit, but at least we can still buy the four GeForce GTS 250s and the price-for-ppd output is excellent. They are perfect for either getting started with a couple or adding to a farm that needs to grow. And don't forget... every farm needs to grow!

The Athlon II X2 240 is sufficient enough to drive data to all four cards - the CPU doesn't need to do that much in reality, and if you're looking for something slightly lower wattage (remember it won't be at full load, so not reaching the TDP) then you can pay more for a Athlon II X2 240e.

Dropping this all into our favoured MSI 790FX-GD70 and it becomes a reliable backbone to the farm which has heavy power demands and PCI-Express loads. It's not cheap, but it's worth it.

What Hardware Should I Buy? - February 2010 Folding Rig

2GB of the best value branded memory you can find will suffice. There's no extra performance needed here so cheap and cheerful will work fine- we've included a single 2GB DIMM of 1,333MHz DDR3 memory since 1,066MHz is no longer being sold in most places.

What Hardware Should I Buy? - February 2010 Folding Rig
Yes, my Adobe Photoshop skills are clearly legendary.

We've forgone the case too, because it's almost impossible to find one that fits four, dual slot graphics cards in, and in its place we've opted for just a simple solution: one huge fan. Sit the 200mm Antec Big Boy on top of the graphics cards and it should stop them roasting to an early death. We've used this setup in our own labs with seven 9600GTs in a single Asus X58 WS motherboard and it's worked perfectly and continuously for several months. If you do have a case to recommend us, please let us know though!

What Hardware Should I Buy? - February 2010 Folding Rig

A cheap 160-250GB hard drive from the usual suspects will suffice for an OS since not much storage is needed - simply the OS and small Folding programs are needed. If you can secure a very small and cheap SSD - even if it's not fast - that will reduce the power use of the system.

We've opted for the Corsair TX750W as power provider. The Seasonic M12-D 750W was more efficient but it's not available to buy in the US right now. The Corsair is also cheaper and we still use it in the labs for testing since we reviewed it, with great effect. If you are opting for a larger farm with more/faster graphics cards though, keep an eye out for the Enermax Revolution 85+: we've ran four GX 295s from a 1,050W for days without issue.

What Hardware Should I Buy? - February 2010 Folding Rig What Hardware Should I Buy? - February 2010 Folding Rig

Finally, drop on the same Akasa AK-876 or Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro that we also used in the Affordable All Rounder PC, and there's ample, quiet cooling here too. If you want to save a few bucks and considering the noise of four graphics cards under load - the stock AMD cooler will suffice.
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