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Machinist X99 Motherboards?

Chuck(G)

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I was looking at AliExpress and was startled to see motherboard kits being offered for around USD$100, which include CPU and 32GB of DDR4/ECC (strange!) RAM. They seem to be popular with the Russian crowd. Are they worth investigating?
 

Unknown_K

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Depends on what you want one for. They tend to have 4 instead of 8 DIMM slots (not sure if the chipset supports 4 channel RAM like a normal X99 does).

VRM tend to be cheap and not cooled very well so no overclocking. Somewhat basic BIOS.
 

Chuck(G)

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Looks like a cheap way to upgrade my daily web-connected system. Right now, I'm still using a AM3+ quad-core system (with a real floppy drive nonetheless!). For 100 or so clams, it might be worth investigating. Old server chipset, repurposed, evidently. I don't game, so performance isn't terribly critical.
 

Unknown_K

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Forget about a real floppy drive on an X99 motherboard.

Anyway, depending on the chip and core count it will blow away anything AM3 related in speed and if you get a cheap NVME drive for $15 used on ebay you are looking at 1500MB/sec and very fast booting.

I have a couple X99 gaming boards and they rock for general use and older gaming.
 

GiGaBiTe

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I bought one of these some months ago, and its been perfectly fine. You'll have to buy your own heatsink though.


This bundle comes with an E5-2680v4, which is a 14 core / 28 thread CPU. The base clock is low at 2.4 GHz, but it can boost most cores up to 3.3 GHz. It also has four memory channels, unlike some of the other boards that just have two. The 16 GB of memory it came with (2 x 8 gb ECC DIMMs) hasn't given me any trouble.

The BIOS has tons of options, it looks like it was lifted from some server board. Not all of the AliExpress motherboard specials have good BIOSes on them though. The first board I bought several years ago was a LGA775 board with a G31 chipset. The BIOS was hideously broken, but I eventually figured a way to cross flash it with a BIOS from some Asus board and its been working fine ever since.
 

Chuck(G)

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This is the "spend some money before the tax man gets it" time. I've got an unused case, so cooler, display card and PSU should do it. Any suggestions? Oh yeah--this will be a Linux box.
 

Unknown_K

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I have an i7-5930K in one and a XEON E5-2643 V3 in the other I think (6 cores/12 threads 3.5-3.7ghz). Both systems are something like 130W TDP and I use Thermaltake 212 EVO cooler with them. 2133P DDR4 DIMMs in 4 channel mode work fine.

Some LGA 2011 boards have a narrow mounting and getting a cooler for those is a pain (had that issue with a Tyan board).

No idea what GPU you need (do you do any 3d work?) or what kind of monitor you are using. Some older Quadro card should be cheap and do 4k video plus be supported by Linux.
 

Chuck(G)

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I don't do any 3D--most of my video is pretty static. I do run 2 monitors--currently what fits on my workstation, a 27" WQHD and an older 4:3 24" NEC. After that, I run out of space. Currently running some cheap 2GB display card with VGA (for the NEC) and Displayport for the WQHD. It works.
 

GiGaBiTe

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I'd recommend an AMD video card. They have much better driver support in Linux these days, Nvidia stuff can be a headache to keep working under Linux if there are no akmod packages available for your distro. You'll have to recompile the kernel module manually every time the Linux kernel is upgraded, which doesn't always go smoothly. Older Nvidia cards can be a real headache to get working, much older than 600 series Nvidia cards and you'll start having to use the terrible Nouveau driver.

If you want something cheap with dual monitor support, AMD RX570 cards are pretty cheap.
 

HoJoPo

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I have one of the Machinist X99 motherboards with a 12 core Xeon CPU and 64GB of RAM (4x16GB, server DDR4 is fairly cheap). It does have quad channel memory and uses a desktop chipset for the southbridge, instead of a server/workstation chipset. This makes it much cheaper, and they work just fine. These bundles use used server CPUs and RAM, but are a good value.
I also have a few of the $70 Radeon RX 580 2048SP 8GB cards, this is basically a slightly faster clocked RX 570. Decent cards for the price, but AMD just ended driver updates for them. Still, good cards for general purpose and 1080p gaming.
Together they are a good combo, throw in a $50 1TB Intel 670p NVME SSD and it's a good performer for the price. Another video card option is to buy a used card, I paid $86 plus tax/shipping for an MSI Duke GTX 1080 8GB on eBay that works very well.
 

the3dfxdude

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I'd be interested in what you will be running. It's hard to give up the legacy options AM3 boards offer. My thoughts on upgrading would to have a system just for being a portal to the modern internet. But so far, I don't see that happening for a while, since I actually bother to compile my own copy of the web browsers now, I undo some of the damage they inflicted preventing old hardware. Another option for having modern hardware is just to build my own compute farms just for an extra boost on certain projects. I have a number of machines that are fairly powerful, so I don't see a need yet for extra power. I guess an X99 with a Xeon is a decent lightweight workstation option, however I may still prefer AMD if I could. I don't care about modern gaming myself -- it's nearly all the same to me now. And many boards anymore look like something built for a gamer to buy. Why can't I find a decent unstylized board loaded with expansion options?
 

njroadfan

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If you want an unstylized board, you have to go low end.... or workstation class (ex: ASRock Rack, SuperMicro, etc.) My main machine has a Asus ProArt X570 Creator. Has ample expansion (Thunderbolt 4, 10Gbe, and 3 NVMe slots) and zero RGB. It wasn't cheap though.
 

Chuck(G)

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Well, I currently run three AM3+ boards, and am not likely to discard those anytime soon--and a bunch of older hardware (AM2, 939, 754, P4, P3...8088) For a web-browsing system, though, call it curiosity and the fact that it will be tax-deductible. It may turn out to be nothing more than a lark.
 

the3dfxdude

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If you want an unstylized board, you have to go low end.... or workstation class (ex: ASRock Rack, SuperMicro, etc.) My main machine has a Asus ProArt X570 Creator. Has ample expansion (Thunderbolt 4, 10Gbe, and 3 NVMe slots) and zero RGB. It wasn't cheap though.

Yes, the price goes way up because now doing anything not gaming is considered workstation. And low end obviously doesn't cut it.
 

GiGaBiTe

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Yes, the price goes way up because now doing anything not gaming is considered workstation. And low end obviously doesn't cut it.

Generic and low end motherboards are relegated to the history books. The desktop PC market has been contracting for decades, and currently is a tiny husk of what it was even 20 years ago. Outside of straight from China knockoff motherboards, all of the mainstream motherboard manufacturers that used to make such boards are dead and gone. The tiny handful that still exist moved into the only real market left of PC gamers, and try to cater to them.

Unless there's a renaissance of the venerable Desktop PC, we're not going to see the old days of reasonably priced generic PC motherboards again, there's no market for it anymore.
 

Chuck(G)

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Agreed. Which is why I'm slowly migrating to USB-connected peripherals, instead of the usual PCI cards. I think USB will be with us for a few years...
 

Unknown_K

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Old PCI is long dead on newer boards, you just have PCIE and that's it.

The evolution of the PC has seen many companies rise up in niche areas only to become redundant. Other than workstation or Gaming GPU's what PCIE cards are even sold in volume anymore? Built in sound became good enough that creative was reduced to selling speakers.

There are quite a few USB devices coming out of asia like sound cards.
 

Chuck(G)

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From what I understand, these Machinist boards use chips from servers sent to China for recycling. Which explains the server RAM in them. Actually, I applaud the re-use of old server hardware.
 
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