Need help putting together a Computer for boinc

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chimmey17

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Message 103114 - Posted: 21 Feb 2021, 20:04:07 UTC

So I am looking for a bonic system I was thinking about going the server route. First is this a good route to take? Second if so what would be the best budget servers so nothing over maybe 500 bucks per. If it is not a good road to go down what would be a good road to go down. Third, should I put money in Cpu or Gpu I like to run LHC, Milkyway@Home, and primegird but will most likely do others in the future. SO based on what parts I should put money into what would be a goof Cpu/GPUs for my price range which is under 500 bucks but if needed that could be pushed up. Sorry if this is a dumb question I am newer to boinc but really enjoy it.
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Bryn Mawr
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Message 103116 - Posted: 22 Feb 2021, 0:50:08 UTC

Life is different in the US so I’ll not advise you directly but here are a few questions to consider before the American contingent arrive :-)

How much are you prepared to pay in electricity bills? If you are getting power cheaply or need to heat your home anyway then you might consider older, cheaper kit.

How noise averse are you? If the computer is to live in your bedroom you might choose different equipment.

How technical are you? Is this to be a home build or must it be bought ready to run?

Is it dedicated to Boinc or do you need it to run other software?
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Les Bayliss
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Message 103117 - Posted: 22 Feb 2021, 4:34:12 UTC

You say that you'll add other projects in the future.
One problem with that is, hardware requirements can get diverse, so "putting all your eggs in one basket" with just one computer, might not work out well as time goes on.

BOINC was originally devised to collect small numbers of computers together.
These were envisaged to be simple desktop machines, and you could cheaply add another one with e.g. different gpus to what you already had, for a new project.
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Profile Dave

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Message 103118 - Posted: 22 Feb 2021, 8:20:58 UTC

Whether the computer is used for other things may also affect your choice of operating system. Different routes have their advantages and disadvantages. Some task types need a lot of RAM and or cache memory. - I am looking at possibly upgrading from 32GB to 64 on my Ryzen7 3700X as I have seen free RAM drop to 3% on occasion. Use of swap can slow things down a lot.

Last thing, from my knowledge is if you are thinking of getting one of the boards that takes lots of ARM processors is that not all projects support ARM CPUs so another thing that might influence your choice. I have only recently started running a project using my video card as previously I only had on board graphics that weren't supported so I will leave that to those who know.
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robsmith
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Message 103119 - Posted: 22 Feb 2021, 8:21:00 UTC

"budget servers" don't come cheap, say 1000 each. (Yes I know you can get "blades" for less, but they need an expensive frame to mount them in.)
A more economical approach is to look at what your local box shifters are offering in the way of entry-level desktop/tower systems. Over here it is possible to pick up a new one for less than 500, with a 4-core AMD Ryzen-3 processor with on-board GPU (not really useable for computational work, but you need something to drive the screen), memory & hard disk (SSD adds a bit more cost, but isn't really worth it) and a licenced copy of Windows 10 Home. GPUs worth buying range between 150 and 8000 (yes, that is three "0"), even a low end one will work, but you need to decide what projects you are going to run as not all projects have applications for all GPU families (AMD, Intel, Nvidia). Don't forget that this sort of system doesn't normally come with a keyboard, mouse, screen so you may have to factor in another 150-200 for those bits.

On the other hand there is an alternative approach - use things like the Raspberry Pi. For your 500 you could probably have a pile of 8 of them, four cores on each, and the required support hardware (psu, switch, keyboard, mouse, screen). Individually they aren't as fast as an entry level desktop, but collectively they will be getting there. BUT, not every project has applications available for them.
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Profile Dave

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Message 103121 - Posted: 22 Feb 2021, 10:32:47 UTC

Thinking about memory a bit more, just checked on my usage. 9% free of 32GB and that is running 5 out of 8 real cores with CPDN and 1 prime grid task on the GPU. I don't run more than 5 of these tasks at once because lack of cache memory starts to slow them down a lot after that. I don't know which other projects use that much memory but I know some do and at some point there will be CPDN tasks that use even more RAM so I would suggest a minimum of 4GB/core and the ability to go up to double that in the future should you need to.
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Peter Hucker
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Message 103123 - Posted: 22 Feb 2021, 14:41:05 UTC - in response to Message 103114.  

So I am looking for a bonic system I was thinking about going the server route. First is this a good route to take? Second if so what would be the best budget servers so nothing over maybe 500 bucks per. If it is not a good road to go down what would be a good road to go down. Third, should I put money in Cpu or Gpu I like to run LHC, Milkyway@Home, and primegird but will most likely do others in the future. SO based on what parts I should put money into what would be a goof Cpu/GPUs for my price range which is under 500 bucks but if needed that could be pushed up. Sorry if this is a dumb question I am newer to boinc but really enjoy it.
I check the speed of CPUs I'm considering at https://www.cpubenchmark.net, and the speed of GPUs at https://www.techpowerup.com/gpu-specs/ - click a card and look for "theoretical performance". Most projects use FP32 but some like Milkyway are FP64. Add up the price (including motherboard, a decent amount of RAM (at least 1.5GB per core) etc, and pick what gives you the most bang for the buck in a price range you want. If you're going for budget, there are very cheap 2nd hand processors and GPUs (Ebay is a very good place to find prices of things, even if you don't end up buying from there), but you'll still have to pay a fair bit for RAM.

As for your question about servers, I wouldn't bother. I made two xeon servers (2 x 12 core CPUs each) out of 2nd hand parts. Way too many hidden expenses - like the motherboard refusing to boot without riser cards and front panel connections present. And annoyances like them not fitting into a regular sized case, and you can't buy server cases anywhere at a sensible price, so they're both sat loose on a bookshelf! Also they (might just be a Dell BIOS problem) moan and moan if the RAM isn't perfectly efficient. I got hold of 2nd hand RAM of different sizes and geometries, and although it works perfectly fine, I have to press F1 every time it boots, so a reboot without me there with a keyboard and monitor connected is impossible.
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robsmith
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Message 103124 - Posted: 22 Feb 2021, 16:32:38 UTC

As Peter implies - be VERY careful when considering buying second-hand. Servers are a very fussy breed - HP were (in)famous for the way one had to have exactly the correct memory, use the correct add-in boards (like GPUs), very peculiar cases, even stranger power supplies etc.

Given your budget you aren't going to have much of a choice of CPU - the real decision is AMD or Intel - you also need to make sure that this selection will allow you to upgrade the CPU in the future without having to change motherboard. Personally I would look at the AMD offerings as, within reason, they are less expensive than Intel and at the low end of the market more or less equivalent performance, and there is a fair chance that updates in CPU will be fairly simple.

GPUs are a minefield. You need to look and see what GPU family the projects of choice fully support, some only support one family or other, while some will only run on very high-end offerings from a particular family. Don't confuse board manufactures like Asus, MSI etc. there are really three families - AMD, Intel & nVidia; most people will say that the intel offerings are "somewhat below parr" which leave us with AMD & nVidia. Both these have their own strengths and weaknesses, so again it is a case of looking at the leader boards of your projects of interest to decide which is the better for your mix of projects, you will frequently find one family dominates, sometimes this is down to the way the applications have been written, sometimes it is down to the science been executed.
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chimmey17

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Message 103125 - Posted: 22 Feb 2021, 16:41:12 UTC - in response to Message 103116.  

I do not pay for my own power right now so I would need to keep it "down" power is not the main thing that I am worried about

The computer will live in my bedroom but I was planning on having it in my closet with some noise canceling if that is possible

I would say I am not that technical but I can learn quick and I am open to new challenges and one of the reasons that I am doing this is to build it myself

It would fully run Boinc
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robsmith
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Message 103127 - Posted: 22 Feb 2021, 19:54:43 UTC - in response to Message 103125.  

Another consideration given you are looking at "hiding" your computer in your bedroom - quite a lot of older servers are somewhat less than quite, and there is little choice of cooling fans :-(

Whatever you end up with, you will probably not have too much of an issue when only running with only a CPU, but many GPUs run rather hot, so good ventilation around the computer is desirable, and small cupboards/closets are frequently poorly ventilated.
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chimmey17

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Message 103129 - Posted: 23 Feb 2021, 0:45:49 UTC - in response to Message 103123.  

It may sound dumb but one of the reasons that I am doing this is to work with servers. So I understand that there are a lot of things that can cause problems but beyond the problems with the server how well be it ran boinc
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chimmey17

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Message 103130 - Posted: 23 Feb 2021, 1:16:49 UTC - in response to Message 103119.  

As I said in another reply one of the reasons that I want to do this is to run servers so is there any way to do that.
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chimmey17

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Message 103132 - Posted: 23 Feb 2021, 1:52:59 UTC - in response to Message 103123.  

So I may be reading this wrong but would you say that the rx580 would be the best bang for my buck coming in at around 300 bucks and doing more work than the 3060 at least for milkly way ?
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Les Bayliss
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Message 103133 - Posted: 23 Feb 2021, 4:16:14 UTC

DON'T put it in a closet!!!
BOINC causes computers to create LOTS of heat.
Keep in out in a clear area where you can get lots of airflow over and through it.

As for BOINC working on a server, yes it will, because it's only a "traffic cop", deciding which project to run next.
It's each project's programs that do the work.

The only way to find out which computer cpu, and any attached gpu's, works best from time to time with each project is to try them.

To get help with this, you could go to each project in which you're interested, and look in the message boards, to see what others have already found out about each processor.
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Profile Dave

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Message 103135 - Posted: 23 Feb 2021, 7:10:42 UTC

DON'T put it in a closet!!!
BOINC causes computers to create LOTS of heat.
Keep in out in a clear area where you can get lots of airflow over and through it.

And this time of year, my Ryzen on many days saves me having to put any heating on in my office!
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chimmey17

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Message 103143 - Posted: 23 Feb 2021, 15:09:17 UTC - in response to Message 103133.  
Last modified: 23 Feb 2021, 15:15:18 UTC

that make sense I will just need to find a way to quiet down what computer I choose. I will look at those post and with that and the wedsite info make my choice of cpu and gpu. Could I possible get a link to something about the Rx580 because I do not see one if there is one?
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chimmey17

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Message 103144 - Posted: 23 Feb 2021, 15:32:29 UTC - in response to Message 103123.  

After thinking about it doing a server may not be the best idea. I would be doing a lot of projects that are GPU and I feel like it may be a pain to have to get them into the server but would it make sense to have a computer running maybe two GPUs are something and a server running powerful server CPUs or would I not see any bump form the server CPUs and am I justing reaching for something at this point?sorry if this are dumb questions there are just a lot of optinos and I bit over weldam. would you recommend asking on the forums for the certain projects that I want to run on what they have found is best.
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robsmith
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Message 103145 - Posted: 23 Feb 2021, 16:28:32 UTC - in response to Message 103144.  

Today the AMD Ryzen family of CPUs are coming out on top in terms of price/performance. Try to avoid versions with built-in GPU, or don't use it.

Obviously the more cores you have the better - within reason. In practice I would limit my search to either 4- or 8-cores as much beyond that and the amount of memory you need goes through the roof. Clock speed is not really important, as there are things like turbo mode that come and go - settle for something in the middle of the speed rage (probably around 3.5GHz). As a starting point go for at least 1GB of memory per core, 2 is better, and 4 better still.

Almost any modern ATX motherboard will support two GPUs, provided you avoid the "micro" sized ones.

Due to the way prices are swinging around just now it is very hard to guess from this side of the Atlantic what would be a system that may sit inside your target of 500(ish). But something like the following might fit:
AMD Ryzen 5 3500x (6-core)
8GB RAM
Motherboard (AM4 with b450 or b550 chipset - just make sure the case is big enough)
Small SATA HDD (while many will say go for an SSD they cost more and the minute performance gain isn't worth the extra cost & hassle)
"midi" or larger ATX case - you don't need anything fancy - NOT a micro or "pizza box" case - they just don't allow adequate cooling.
PSU - at least 500W, 750 would be better if you intend to add a couple of mid-range GPUs.
Windows 10 (home will do, but pro is better)
(You can of course save a bit by going to Linux, but not every project supports that operating system, and it can be a bit of a problem getting GPUs to work properly even on projects that do support it.)


Even a low-end GPU worth using will blow your budget of 500is by about 150-300, and mid range come in between 250 and 800, thereafter you can easily pay thousands. (A job I'm involved in uses over 2000 custom built GPUs where the normal (commercial) version is about 8000 on a one-off basis.)

I'll leave others who know about the AMD GPU range to comment on the RX580, other than to say its near the bottom of the pile but may be OK.
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chimmey17

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Message 103146 - Posted: 23 Feb 2021, 16:41:55 UTC - in response to Message 103114.  
Last modified: 23 Feb 2021, 16:47:53 UTC

should I just run my own pc with a better cpu cooler for now? Sorry sometimes I get caught up in things and it would be really cool to have a computer just for BOINC but that my not be possible> I still want to try it but sorry if this thread is "bad" and really not getting at much I am just looking for the best way to help boinc out and learn about working with computers both commercial parts and server part if that makes sense
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robsmith
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Message 103147 - Posted: 23 Feb 2021, 17:42:01 UTC - in response to Message 103146.  

If you have a reasonable computer there is no reason not to put a GPU in it - that is what a great many people do.
Then as funds permit they upgrade it one part at a time - that's how my collection grew to be something the other side of a dozen!
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Message boards : Questions and problems : Need help putting together a Computer for boinc

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