SPECS: Supermicro H8QG6-F quad socket motherboard, 4x AMD Opteron 16 core 16 thread CPU, 32x8gb modules of ram 1600mhz, Geforce gt 710, Evga 1300W PSU
Earlier in June I was browsing computer builds online, saw a post with a quadsocket motherboard, and... well... I couldn't resist.
I am just a college student working a summer job and thought it worthwhile to spend some money on a project that would bring lots of fun for time to come. One of the first posts I saw featuring a quadsocket motherboard was this post here on PCPP as well as the linus tech tips video featuring a similar setup as mine here.
I was able to order all of the older components off ebay for cheap. I have done computer builds in the past but this build brought me much more trouble than I anticipated. My previous build is here on PCPP but the account I was using was a school email and was shut down after I left high school. I am no longer able to access my old account but can still link my old build here.
Lets start with the problems I encountered :) (Not necessarily in chronological order)
1. I was able to install the Opteron cpus into the motherboard and use only two CPU EPS connectors to power it on (the third EPS connector is not required as per the manual, and my PSU only has two EPS connectors). The motherboard powered on with its noisy stock fans and the lights began to go through the boot sequence... but I had NO video output. LONG story short despite the bios reporting it had bios v3.0... it did not. In order to get the newer opterons (63xx series) to work with this motherboard I needed to flash the bios to v3.0 or later to get video output. This was no small feat. This meant I needed to purchase older opteron cpus (that were compatible with the installed bios) JUST to update to the latest revision of the bios. I was able to purchase four amd Opteronn 6172 12 core processors on Ebay for just $25. Once I had these installed and operational, it was time to flash the bios. There are two ways to flash the bios on this board, use the IPMI interface(via the web and more user friendly, or flash it with Freenas on a usb). The board I got on ebay refused to connect with IPMI despite referencing many different online tutorials to get it working, so I had to flash it with freenas (which has a chance of bricking the board) and was very nervous about it. Thankfully all went as planned and the bios was updated. I then swapped the Opteron 6172 cpus with the newer 6380 cpus that should (supposedly) now work on this board. With my fingers crossed I booted the computer and...YES I got video output. HUGE SUCCESS.
2. Finding a proper cooling solution for this motherboard was very difficult. I was trying to make this build yield as much performance as possible, while keeping it quiet. Unfortunately most of the AMD G34 socket coolers are crazy loud Dynatron fans used in server applications. I searched on ebay for some alternatives and found custom coolers for cheap, so I bought 4 of them. Unfortunately once installed they were not able to keep the cpu under the max operating temperature of 69 degrees celcius so I had to look for alternatives. I knew this board was capable of being overclocked thanks to a custom bios available on the internet for many supermicro G34 boards, so I knew I needed a better cooling solution if I wanted to take advantage of the overclocking headroom. I started looking at aio coolers but could not find any specific to the G34 platform. There were many mods available online but I was skeptical at first. I eventually decided on the Corsair H60 2018 edition as it has an amd bracket that can be turned upside down and skrewed down to the socket with the help of some quarter inch nylon spacers. These work very well despite not being intended for use with this socket.
3. The biggest question I had for a long time... what to put this huge motherboard inside? All of my prior testing was done with the motherboard resting on a sheet of cork board (non-conductive surface). No cases could fit this motherboard except for some proprietary cases sold straight from Supermicro (very expensive). So I decided to mod my favorite case for this build as I was able to drop the motherboard in and confirm it could be done. Two mounting holes actually lined up with the motherboard which was a surprise for me, the rest of the mounting holes were drilled out and sanded down. Literally the only place wires are able to be routed to the motherboard is via the very bottom of the case. The motherboard covers up EVERYTHING else. lol
4. What to do about those noisy stock fans the motherboard comes with... the ones that cool the chipsets... YES... PLURAL chipsets! I was familiar with the smaller noctua fans and was able to find two 40mm 4 pin Noctua fans to place on the heatsinks. Unfortunately the stock fans are built into the heatsink so there was no obvious way to attach the new Noctua fans to the heasinks after I removed the stock fans. I fixed this by applying some silicon glue to the heatsink and pressing the Noctua fans on accordingly. They work great and make almost no noise!
5. How are you going to fit a graphics card in there? The fans you installed on the heatsinks are now in the way!? I was able to find a small form factor GT 710 that satisfied my main criteria (no noise, low profile, did not get in the way of the two Noctua fans, provided a smooth video output so I didn't rely on CPU graphics).
6. I had no way of knowing if this motherboard was running in quad channel mode (most optimal) and was worried about it. I used CPUZ to check and it said I was running dual channel mode which prompted me to contact Supermico directly. Essentially there is no ACTUAL way to tell if the motherboard is in quad channel mode, but as long as all ram modules are recognized, I should be good according to the representative.
7. What operating system to use? I knew I was not able to use regular windows 10 pro as it only supports up to 2 physical cpu sockets, which left me with windows server as an option. I picked up windows server 2019 for $7 on Ebay and it works great. I had to install and reinstall the OS many times while troubleshooting and swapping hardware as well. Windows server 2019 does have its downsides though. I had to manually enable wifi and the internet. The default web browser is a modified version of Internet Explorer with ramped up security. I could not even download chrome until I turned off EVERY single security feature in the settings. (very time consuming)
But why build this? I mainly wanted to build it for fun, the system is running cpu projects with Boinc when I am not using it. I am also considering using it as a render node for future work with Autodesk Maya.
How does it perform? It has a 15% faster multicore score than the newest i9 flagship processor, the i9-9980XE according to CPUZ! Yes thats right, $220 in Opterons outperforms a $2000 cpu!
What is this things power usage? Under full load at 3.2Ghz it will pull 900 watts! Idling will pull around 400 watts!
DESCRIPTION NOT COMPLETELY DONE YET! CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM APPRECIATED!