Since we've educated you all in what makes the perfect folding farm
, we've twisted James's 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 its price-for-ppd output is excellent and perfect for either getting started or adding to a farm that needs to grow. And don't forget... every farm needs to grow.
UK Price | US Price: MSI 790FX-GD70 motherboard
We've dropped MSI's multi-PCI-Express-slotted K9A2 Platinum, because it's getting harder and harder to source, instead opting for the latest DDR3/AM3 alternative. MSI's 790FX-GD70
is a great board, and has those all-important four 16x PIC-E slots to house four graphics cards. It's a bit more money than the old K9A2 Platinum, but there's more quality to the design and construction too.
UK Price | US Price: AMD Athlon II X2 240 CPU
UK Price: OCZ 4GB 1,066MHz DDR3 Memory
US Price: A-Data 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 Memory
We've used a cheap dual-core Athlon II X2 240 to give the system enough processing power to keep the graphics cards loaded with work units while also keeping the system price down. The Athlon supports DDR2 and DDR3, but with the MSI board recommended above we needed some cheap 1,066/1,333MHz DDR3 in there too which should suffice.
UK Price | US Price: Nvidia GeForce GTS 250 512MB GDDR3 Graphics Card
Now for the core of your farm: Nvidia GPUs.
The GeForce GTS 250 512MB cards are still the best value per ppd we can muster, as you can see from the folding graphs
. In the UK we've found some cheaper "Green" cards that are slightly lower clocked but are also lower volted to save a bit of power. Each cards costs £77 in the UK but a little more at $135 in the US.
UK Price | US Price: Seasonic M12D 750W
To power four graphics cards, you're going to need a weighty and very reliable PSU with plenty of PCI-Express connectors - for that we've chosen a 750W Seasonic M12D. While this might be the most expensive single component on the list, you need a quality PSU to power four hungry GPUs that are going to be under very heavy load 24/7. Any power flake-out will cost you ppd, not to mention damage to your equipment.
UK Price: Akasa AK-876
US Price: Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro
The Akasa AK-876 is certainly able to cool the Athlon II X2, especially as we won't need to overclock this CPU for a folding rig. Furthermore, the Akasa cooler isn't so big that it impedes the use of memory slots either. For our US readers who aren't able to buy Akasa products, there's the similar Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 which does pretty much the same job.
UK Price | US Price: Seagate 7200.12 250GB SATA Hard Disk
Finally, there's the case and hard disk to consider. Any old hard disk will do really, so we've gone for the cheapest 250GB model we could find which is actually luckily a single platter Seagate 7200.12 that keeps down the power consumption and excess heat ever so slightly more.
UK Price | US Price: Antec Big Boy 120mm
After listening to our readers and trying to find a case to fit four graphics cards, without creating an oven to kill them, we've simply given up and opted for a simple Antec Big Boy 120mm fan to lay on top of the graphics cards while they sit on a shelf somewhere. If you can recommend us a high airflow case that will fit a fourth card and doesn't cost the earth - we're all ears!
That's all for this month. As always, your feedback in the comments is very much appreciated!