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What Does a $16,000+ PC Look Like, Anyway? 495

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the half-the-cost-was-windows-server-liceses dept.
justechn writes "Tom's Hardware has an article about custom PC maker Puget Systems, who had just finished a custom $16,000 PC for one of their clients. So what exactly goes into a $16,000 system? How about: Four quad-core Opteron processors, 32 GB of memory, Windows Server 2008, Asus Xonar DX PCI Express sound card, 3Ware 9550SX-8LP SATA 3 Gb/s RAID controller, Two Western Digital 300 GB VelociRaptor hard drives in RAID 1, Two 1 TB Samsung SpinPoint F1s also in RAID 1, and Four 1 TB Samsung SpinPoint F1s in RAID 5. Puget went with MagiCool's Xtreme Nova 1080 radiator, Nine 120 mm fans, Four Koolance CPU blocks, Koolance combined pump and reservoir unit, and Cooler Master Stacker 810 case. In addition to all that hardware, it also runs very quiet and very cool. The temperature of the CPUs is 36 C at idle, 45 C at load."
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What Does a $16,000+ PC Look Like, Anyway?

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  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:07PM (#27186251)
    Four quad-core Opteron processors, 32 GB of memory, Windows Server 2008, Asus Xonar DX PCI Express sound card, 3Ware 9550SX-8LP SATA 3 Gb/s RAID controller, Two Western Digital 300 GB VelociRaptor hard drives in RAID 1, Two 1 TB Samsung SpinPoint F1s also in RAID 1, and Four 1 TB Samsung SpinPoint F1s in RAID 5. Puget went with MagiCool's Xtreme Nova 1080 radiator, Nine 120 mm fans, Four Koolance CPU blocks, Koolance combined pump and reservoir unit, andCooler Master Stacker 810 case. By a remarkable coincidence, these are almost exactly the hardware requirements for Windows 8!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:09PM (#27186273)

    But will it blend?

  • I remember when.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by whoever57 (658626) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:10PM (#27186287) Journal
    $16,000 bought you a high-end Compaq desktop. Not a server, only one CPU, one disk, etc.. And that was when $16k was real money!
  • by Hawthorne01 (575586) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:13PM (#27186327)
    Now can we PLEASE get rid of that "Macs cost more than Windows" meme? :)
    • by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:39PM (#27186693) Journal

      No.

      $14,746
      # Two 2.93GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
      # 32GB (8x4GB)
      # Mac Pro RAID Card
      # 1TB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s
      # 1TB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s
      # 1TB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s
      # 1TB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s
      # ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB
      # One 18x SuperDrive
      # None
      # None
      # Apple Mighty Mouse
      # Apple Keyboard with Numeric Keypad (English) and User's Guide
      # None
      # None
      # None
      # None
      # None
      # None
      # None
      # Mac OS X Server (10-Client)
      # None
      # None
      # Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter
      # None
      # None
      # AppleCare Protection Plan for Mac Pro (w/or w/o Display) - Auto-enroll

      • by Insightfill (554828) on Friday March 13, 2009 @10:28PM (#27189603) Homepage
        Whenever someone loads up an online cart with a bunch of items (or a few big ticket items), I always envision some electronic storekeeper rubbing his hands together in glee. And then... you abandon the cart. Right there. Before the checkout - sometimes IN THE CHECKOUT LANE, like when you're standing there by the conveyor belt and someone has had the gall to leave something like cheese or meat right against the magazines to spoil, all because they didn't think to just give it to the cashier and say "I changed my mind." Idiots.

        And: I also have this image of a great big store like Amazon littered with millions of electronic shopping carts, crowding the aisles.

        Must go take my meds now.

  • (Re: another poster, maybe they forgot to mention the video card, because it would be be ordinary.)

    I get a kick out of the Time Value of computers. $16,000 feels like a high flown retail price that will tank.

    • by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:32PM (#27186607)
      Actually, I was thinking that for four quad cores, i.e. 16 cores, and 2 GB memory per core, $16k is pretty damn cheap. Consider that 5 years ago if you wanted that kind of computing power you had to buy dual opteron boards and have eight of them communicate over gigabit ethernet (cheap but slow) or infiniband (fast but ~$1k per node, so add $8k to the price, that's half the price of this cluster just for the interconnects). I use a cluster of similar configuration and it sure cost more than $16k when it was new. Granted, with separate cores you get to bypass the interconnects but you have to use a shared memory bus which can saturate and form a bottleneck. As far as I know, whether you want a separate core or multi-core system depends on your application, but shit, $16k for what amounts to a small cluster is still a great deal especially since they preassembled it.
  • Two Western Digital 300 GB VelociRaptor hard drives in RAID 1, Two 1 TB Samsung SpinPoint F1s also in RAID 1, and Four 1 TB Samsung SpinPoint F1s in RAID 5.

    What is the point of the two WD 300GB drives? They provide 300GB usable disk space, while the system has another 4TB of usable space. They are RAID1 -- just like the pair of Samsung drives. Are they just for show? Or to fill more of the available drive bays? Perhaps the builder could have covered the case with diamonds to make it more expensive?

    • by CaptainPatent (1087643) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:21PM (#27186449) Journal
      Because they're Velociraptors - they're extraordinarily fast... much more so than the Samsung drives. If you have a segment of data that has a much higher access frequency, that space would be a great place to put it.
    • by Ravenscall (12240)

      Speed, plain and simple. They use the faster drives for whatever regular disk access they need, and stuff that does not get used as much or just does not need that much speed get shuffled off to the slower but larger drives.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Dude McDude (938516)

      I'm guessing the answer's "speed". The VelociRaptor's are 10,000rpm, whereas the SpinPoints are 7200rpm.

    • by icebike (68054)

      I suspect this is the system drive, where the OS will be installed. They are way faster than the Samsung, and can be configured for smaller block sizes.

      Since it is Windows, you want to keep the OS on separate space since you know it is going to need reloading fairly often as viruses strike and new versions filter out.

      The other RAID1 is probably working disk space, and will probably have some rather large blocking factors.

      The RAID5 is probably planned for longer term bulk storage since it can be a tad slowe

      • Nah, it's the reverse. No one would pay the premium for those velo's if they were just going to put the OS on them...The OS would go just as fast if it was in the other RAID 1 volume.

        Well, unless the moron just wants windows to boot AS FAST AS POSSIBLE...Still FTFA it's going to be running 2008 Server, and Windows Server doesn't boot all that fast.

      • BAARF (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Friday March 13, 2009 @06:08PM (#27187145) Homepage Journal

        The RAID5 is probably planned for longer term bulk storage since it can be a tad slower than Raid1.

        RAID 5 isn't worth it. If you want to put four drives in a RAID, use RAID 10 [miracleas.com]. Writes are faster on RAID 10 than on RAID 5, and if two drives fail, there's only a 33 percent chance of needing to restore everything from backup, compared to 100 percent for RAID 5.

        • Re:BAARF (Score:5, Informative)

          by icebike (68054) on Friday March 13, 2009 @06:27PM (#27187363)

          Except he would need another drive to achieve the same storage.

          Raid10 = 1/2 N * Size.
          Raid5 = N-1 * Size.

          Two drives failing before you can replace the first failure is fairly unlikely. The fact that they more than likely bought all the drives at the same time increases the odds that they will fail reasonably close to each other in time.

          But having Two drives failing before you have time to replace the first failure is fairly unlikely.

    • by vux984 (928602)

      The velociraptors are 10k rpm vs the more usual 7200rpm for the spinpoints; so they should be noticeably faster. (just as a 7200rpm desktop drive is noticeably faster than a 5400rpm or 4200rpm laptop hard drive.

      Still, why not just drop in an SSD.

      That aside I can't imagine there really being a point to the 3 sets of RAID drives here or than 'because I can'.

    • by causality (777677)

      Two Western Digital 300 GB VelociRaptor hard drives in RAID 1, Two 1 TB Samsung SpinPoint F1s also in RAID 1, and Four 1 TB Samsung SpinPoint F1s in RAID 5.

      What is the point of the two WD 300GB drives? They provide 300GB usable disk space, while the system has another 4TB of usable space. They are RAID1 -- just like the pair of Samsung drives. Are they just for show? Or to fill more of the available drive bays? Perhaps the builder could have covered the case with diamonds to make it more expensive?

      I have not personally had any Microsoft software on my own computers for close to ten years, so I am not sure how much of what I am about to say would apply to Windows Server 2008. Having said that, the 300GB RAID-1 sounds like a good boot/system volume (on Linux, I would probably mount it at /, as the root partition) while the four 1TB drives in RAID-5 would be a good user data volume (i.e. /home in Linux) and maybe the 1TB RAID-1 volume would be good for supplementary storage (perhaps /usr or possibly fo

    • Perhaps the builder could have covered the case with diamonds to make it more expensive?

      I prefer rubies you insensitive clod!

  • From SuperMicro [supermicro.com] and price what it would be like to max it out on RAM and processors. You'd need a custom case for it to make it a workstation pc rather than a rackmount. Comes to about $20k with 96G of RAM and 4 6-core Xeons -- still less than what Dilbert spent for his dream system [imdb.com].
  • sigh I guess it's my turn for the mandatory crap posts.

    Beowulf cluster... Vista... Crysis...

    Seriously? What would be the point of a system like that? Rather, what is the purpose of a system like that that can't be served by a cheaper alternative?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Rather, what is the purpose of a system like that that can't be served by a cheaper alternative?

      Bragging rights over throwing away 16k on a computer?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SatanicPuppy (611928) *

      I'm just trying to figure out what sort of moron expects 16 cores and 8 hdds to be quiet?

      You could save yourself thousands just by ditching the "near-silent" requirement, and investing in some good earphones.

      I'm going to agree with Ninnle; it's all about ostentation.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Xtravar (725372)

        It could be for a music studio. That doesn't quite explain the soundcard... but hell, throw it in for backup if we're already up to $15,800.

        I could easily see a song with 50 tracks with filters needing the horsepower... to run comfortably.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tubal-Cain (1289912)
        Or stick it in the next room over...
  • Seriously. 4-6MP Barco Mammography monitors at $30,000 a piece. Then add an additional 2 21" NEC Color Displays powered off a high end Quadro card. All of this is connected to an HP xw8600 with 8GB ram, quad core Xeon, etc. All in all it came to a bit over 150k when it was all said and done considering the monitors had to be ordered factory direct from Korea and we had to pay importation fees.

    Sadly you can't use it to run much of anything except PACS software. I'd love to give flight sim a whirl if quadro

  • by Lookin4Trouble (1112649) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:33PM (#27186625)
    As a former enthusiast in the liquid and vapor phase-change cooling market, I can point out a multitude of things gone wrong here.

    1) Single Cooling Loop - with 4 quad-core processors, this machine could net much better bang-for-the-decibel out of a dual loop system - one loop handling one pair of processors, second loop handling the other pair. Optimally speaking, a quad-loop system (individual loops per processor) would net even better results.
    2) Video cards have fans, too! - Find yourself a video card that uses cooling pipes or similar technology, rather than fans. Those little fans spinning really fast make _LOTS_ of noise.
    3) Speaking of noise - WD300 Raptors? Congrats, you just put the noisiest modern hard drives in a machine "built to be quiet" - if no expense was to be spared, why is this thing not outfitted with Solid State Disks???
    4) Problems with the liquid - in addition to number one above, the reservoir is mounted at the bottom of the case? That's an amateur mistake right there. Reservoir at top of case = any air infiltration gets trapped at the reservoir. Additionally, the "angled barbs" are 90-degree bends - not exactly what you want in a low-flow system, backpressure is going to kill that pump, or at least cause it to whine incessantly, even at lower flow settings.
    5) PSU - Corsair HX 1000W PSU - why not a PC Power and Cooling ultra-quiet unit, or a SilenX-modded solid cap PSU? Instead, they opt for a PSU rated at 57dBm?

    Amateur job, Puget, very amateur. If anyone feels the need to build a super-quiet box, they really should shop around and look into these type of issue, or suffer sever disappointment.

    E

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ruiner13 (527499)
      I don't think the machine was built for quiet, I think liquid cooling was used to get more cooling (and this more overclockability) than fan cooling alone would. The machine was built for speed, not noise reduction. Otherwise, why would there be so many fans in addition to the liquid cooling?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CajunArson (465943)

      3) Speaking of noise - WD300 Raptors? Congrats, you just put the noisiest modern hard drives in a machine "built to be quiet" - if no expense was to be spared, why is this thing not outfitted with Solid State Disks???

      That's not really accurate, the newest Velociraptors are 2.5" hard drives encased in a large 3.5" heatsink that also is very effective at quieting the drive. Anandtech measured extremely reasonable sound levels [anandtech.com] in its review, so I'd be careful before casting aspersions on that f

  • for those whom have seen this, im sure many of you, the rig for that reportedly cost £24k, as was said in the b3ta thread where it was posted, i dont know if this was mentioend elsewhere where the video was posted, ill try and dig it up
  • by merreborn (853723) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:40PM (#27186717) Journal

    It was purchased in the late nineties for a 3D artist at a dotcom; the company folded a year or so later. The few employees that stuck around received hardware in lieu of their final paychecks.

    Dual 333 MHZ P3s. Nvidia Riva 2. Half a gig of ram. Dual 10k RPM 14GB U160 SCSI drives attached to a Adaptec 19160 (The 19160 *still* sells for at $100, 10 years later. Who knows how much it cost at the time...). High speed (for the time) Plextor SCSI CDRom reader and writer.

    With a few minor upgrades here and there (video card, a little more ram, a few replaced power supplies), it remained my main system til about 2005. Even played WoW on it. The only real reason I don't use it anymore? Lack of 48-bit LBA support -- couldn't stick a drive larger than 137 gig on it, which in this day and age, just doesn't quite cut it for a desktop.

    Replaced it about a year ago -- picked up $300 worth of parts at Fry's, and built a machine that out-spec'd the original in every way, except drive speed.

    Those SCSI drives would still be sweet, if they weren't so damn small.

  • 'Four quad-core Opteron processors, 32 GB of memory, Windows Server 2008, Asus Xonar DX PCI Express sound card, 3Ware 9550SX-8LP SATA 3 Gb/s RAID controller, Two Western Digital 300 GB VelociRaptor hard drives in RAID 1, Two 1 TB Samsung SpinPoint F1s also in RAID 1, and Four 1 TB Samsung SpinPoint F1s in RAID 5. Puget went with MagiCool's Xtreme Nova 1080 radiator, Nine 120 mm fans, Four Koolance CPU blocks, Koolance combined pump and reservoir unit, and Cooler Master Stacker 810 case.'

    The specs needed to

  • No, not for personal use or gaming. It will run Linux with a Xen kernel and is intended to replace nearly all of our old individual servers. Everything from the piddly servers like DNS, LDAP, Kerberos, and our minimal web services to the AFS db servers. No file services on that beast though, I'm not crazy - no disk I/O-RAM access contention please. My plan is to copy an entire OS image of /usr into a RAMFS filesystem in the top level Dom 0 domain and then cross mount that as RO in each Xen instance. We'll also stick small SQL server and other dbs copies in local tempfs RAMdisks too. Everything in RAM will be snapshotted and saved to physical disk periodically. Those deltas will then be copied to a remote fail-over server periodically as well.

    It should be both reasonably stable and blindingly fast.

    Another machine will handle AFS and some NFS file services, which has up to sixteen SATA disks attached to two 8 port 3-Ware RAID cards, thus spreading I/O load across two PCI buses. No, we don't need all that disk space - we need the I/O performance. It too should be reasonably fast. We're gearing up to connect that either by several channel bonded 1Gb to a CISCO 6509, or - if we're lucky - we'll just go 10Gb optical. We'll see how the finances work out there.

    This is how departmental IT is done. Or, at least, it's how it *should* be done. I spent less than $25K on these two computers and they will replace well a couple hundred thousand dollars worth of accumulated hardware purchased over the last ten years and now fully depreciated.

    • This is how departmental IT is done. Or, at least, it's how it *should* be done.

      I notice that you didn't buy two identical machines so that if one went down, you could fail over.

      This is not how IT is done. Or at least, not how it should be done.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by adolf (21054)

        Insightful? How about: Illiterate.

        To wit:

        This is how departmental IT is done. Or, at least, it's how it *should* be done. I spent less than $25K on these TWO computers [Emphasis mine]

        He says, right there, that there are two of them. Oh, sure, the rest of the time he's referring to the purchase in the singular sense, but if he's doing it right, he's treating both the live system and its spare as a singular entity anyway.

        Please learn to read before flaming. Thanks!

  • Apple Store (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tylersoze (789256) on Friday March 13, 2009 @05:56PM (#27186969)

    If you want to see a $16,000 computer why not just go to the Apple online store? You should be able to get there pretty easily by maxing out a Mac Pro. :)

  • by dtml-try MyNick (453562) <litheran@gmai l . c om> on Friday March 13, 2009 @06:38PM (#27187511)

    *Hey buddy, look what I ordered.. the coolest machine ever build to date.. Spend 16k on this little beasty.. bet you are jealous now huh?*

    Cool, I bet this can run Crysis pretty damn fast!

    *erm, no.....*

    Pretty insane if you ask me.. Even if you don't have a use for a graphicscard.. you'd still have some pride right? :)

  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Saturday March 14, 2009 @01:26AM (#27190367) Journal
    What would twice as much money bought me 10 years ago? Then I realize I can probably build a better computer than it for 1/20 the cost today. It isn't really an investment when you buy a supercharged computer, but more of a passing fling.
  • by this great guy (922511) on Saturday March 14, 2009 @07:30AM (#27191501)
    If you have the expertise and time, build it at half the price:
    • Case Cooler Master Stacker 810: $179 [pacificgeek.com]
    • PSU Corsair 1000HX 1000 Watt: $218 [provantage.com]
    • Mobo Tyan S4989WG2NR: $872 [provantage.com]
    • 4 x CPU Opteron 8350 HE Quad-core 2.0 GHz: 4 x $927 [provantage.com]
    • 16 x 2GB DDR2-667 ECC Registered: 16 x $31 [newegg.com]
    • GPU Gigabyte GV-N98XPZL-1GH GeForce 9800 GTX+ 1GB: $180 [newegg.com]
    • RAID card 3ware 9550SXU-8LP: $416 [provantage.com]
    • 2 x HDD WDC VelociRaptor 300GB: 2 x $230 [newegg.com]
    • 6 x HDD Samsung Spinpoint F1 1TB: 6 x $100 [newegg.com]
    • DVD Burner Pioneer 20X SATA: $23 [newegg.com]
    • Sound card ASUS Xonar DX: $90 [newegg.com]
    • Liquid cooling system: ~$300
    • Total: $7542 (compare to Puget's price of $16338)

    Also, they made a couple mistakes. Firstly they used 75W Opterons (8350) instead of 50W ones like in my list above (8350 HE) - pretty stupid considering their whole focus was to build a silent system ! Secondly instead of 10k RPM drives they should have used SSDs which are much cheaper per IOPS. Thirdly since they didn't build it with more than 32GB RAM, why pick an expensive mobo supporting 128GB ? They could have saved $400 by choosing one with fewer memory slots supporting "only" 64GB.

  • Compare that... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CAIMLAS (41445) on Saturday March 14, 2009 @10:34AM (#27192295) Homepage

    Compare that to building the thing yourself, with the exact same components: probably under 1/3rd the cost.

    At that price, he could almost justify a Mac Pro! (But seriously: a similar Mac Pro could likely be configured for less!)

    Oh, and seriously: at $16k, I'd expect the system to be small, fanless, and near-hermetic. And, I'd like to see how "quiet" that system is in 12 months once the fans start to take a little wear.

The flow chart is a most thoroughly oversold piece of program documentation. -- Frederick Brooks, "The Mythical Man Month"

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