We are assembling a gaming PC on 8-core Xeon E5-2670: buying a processor, motherboard and memory in China

We already acquainted you with the main discovery of 2016 – the engineering sample Core i7-6400T. For enthusiasts and fans of overclocking, this Skylake-processor has become not only a way to bypass Intel’s overclocking limitations, but also a real opportunity to get a productive quad-core Core i7 for the price of Core i3. In this article, we will consider another advantageous option for buying iron in China.


On the expanses of AliExpress, Taobao and Ebay you will find a lot of server chips Xeon of generations Sandy Bridge-EP and Ivy Bridge-EP, which appeared on sale in 2012 and 2013. In due time it was one of the most high-tech and productive solutions, therefore, such processors cost quite expensive. For example, the retail price of the 8-nuclear Xeon E5-2670, which will be discussed later, when ordering a batch of 1,000 pieces, was $ 1,550. Now this model can be purchased for only a few thousand rubles, which is not surprising, given its age.

The presence of six and eight cores for outdated Xeon models attracts computer enthusiasts, and simply all those who want to save as much as possible while building a system unit. At a price, some Sandy Bridge-EP and Ivy Bridge-EP chips are comparable to the modern dual-core Pentium and Core i3 processors of the Skylake and Kaby Lake generations, and in performance in multi-threaded applications – with quad-core Core i7. It sounds tempting, does not it? But, like in any adventure related to the purchase of iron in China, it does not do without pitfalls. Therefore, we decided to study this issue in more detail, assembling a productive and inexpensive gaming computer based on the Xeon E5-2670.


Game PC based on 8-core Xeon E5-2670, motherboard G218A-V1.1a and RAM Samsung M393B1K70DH0-YK0

⇡ # Selection and purchase of

The most attractive models Sandy Bridge-EP for the LGA2011 platform and Chinese motherboards based on the X79 Express chipset are the Xeon E5-1620, E5-1650, E5-2650, E5-2660, E5-2665, E5-2670 , E5-2680 and E5-2690. Find these chips on sale on sites such as Taobao and AliExpress, will not be difficult. The most popular variants from this list are the 6-core Xeon E5-1650 and 8-core Xeon E5-2670. The first model has an unlocked multiplier. Statistics show that this processor with the use of high-quality air cooling is quite easily accelerated to 4.3-4.5 GHz. The Xeon E5-2670 does not have such an advantage, but under load all eight cores of the chip work at a frequency of 3 GHz, which is also not bad. The other server processors do not look so attractive in the price-performance coordinate system. The Xeon E5-1620 has only four cores, the E5-2650 chips (~ 2,000 rubles), E5-2660 (~ 3,000 rubles) and E5-2665 (~ 3,500 rubles) operate at low frequencies, and the E5- 2680 (~ 7 500 rubles) will have to be paid.

On the same trading platforms, there are full Xeon processors of the Ivy Bridge-EP generation. Interesting options seem 10-core Xeon E5-2660 V2, Xeon E5-2670 V2 and Xeon E-2680 V2 – they are also compatible with the platform LGA2011. The engineer Xeon E5-2680 V2, working with all ten cores at the frequency of 3100 MHz, costs an average of 8,000 rubles. Serial modification of this processor will cost significantly more.


In the end, our choice fell on the model Xeon E5-2670 (~ 4,000 rubles) with stepping C1, since this chip costs less than Xeon E5-1650 (~ 6,000 rubles.), But without overclocking is faster in all resource intensive tasks that use multithreading. The technical characteristics of these processors are given in the table. For clarity, let’s add to the comparison Core i7-3970X Extreme Edition – the flagship chip among the desktop solutions for the LGA2011 platform – and the Core i7-7700, as many sellers on TaoBao and AliExpress like to compare 8-core Xeon with 8-way Core chips of the sixth and the seventh generation.

It is important to understand that Sandy Bridge in 2017 is already considered an outdated architecture. After its release in 2012, Intel introduced Ivy Bridge, Haswell, Broadwell and Skylake solutions, and when comparing the Sandy Bridge processor with the Skylake or Kaby Lake chip at the same frequency, the modern CPU will be faster by an average of 30%, and this is a significant increase. Plus, we do not forget that platforms are evolving along with central processors.

The Xeon E5-2670The Xeon E5-1650The Core i7-3970X Extreme EditionThe Core i7- 7700

The platform LGA2011 LGA2011 LGA2011 LGA1151
The date of exits Q1 2012 Q1 2012 Q4 2012 Q1 2017
The code name Sandy Bridge-E Sandy Bridge-E Sandy Bridge-E Kaby Lake
The technical process, nm 32 32 32 14
The number of nuclei / flows 8/16 6/12 6/12 4/8
The clock speed (Turbo Boost), GHz 2.6 (3.3) 3.2 (3.8) 3.5 (4.0) 3.6 (4.2)
Unlocked multiplier No There are There are No
Third level cache, Mbyte 20 12 15 8
The built in memory controller DDR3-800 / 1066/1333/1600, 4-channel DDR3-800 / 1066/1333/1600, 4-channel DDR3-1066 / 1333/1600, 4-channel DDR4-2133 / 2400, DDR3L-1333/1600, 2-channel
Number of PCI Express lines, version 40, 3.0 40, 3.0 40, 3.0 16, 3.0
The built in graphics No No No HD 630
The level of TDP, W 115 130 150 65
The price at time of admission, $ 1 552 583 1 059 303

As you can see, the Core i7-3970X is very similar to the server Xeon E5-1650. But the desktop six-core Intel (do not forget about the existence and Core i7-3960X), also intended for the platform LGA2011, higher clock speeds and more caches in the third level: 15 against 12 MB. In addition, it is worth noting that the processors based on Sandy Bridge architecture do not support the set of vector commands AVX2.

On sale you can find Xeon with stepping both C1 and C2 – the new version fixes errors in the implementation of virtualization technology VT-d. There are no other advantages of stepping C2, but such versions of Xeon cost 800-1,000 rubles more. At our disposal came the model C1. This is not an engineering sample, there is full marking on the lid. FPO number (Finished Process Order) 3135C087 indicates that the processor was produced on the 35th week of 2011.


The characteristics of the Intel Xeon E5-2670, the motherboard G218A-V1.1a and the memory of Samsung M393B1K70DH0-YK0

Within the framework of this article, the option of buying not only a central processor, but also a motherboard with a set of RAM is considered. The fact is that it is not easy to find a cheap motherboard based on the X79 Express chipset from the well-known manufacturer on Avito and other flea markets. There are options, but for a “worn” fee level GIGABYTE GA-X79-UD3 ask for 13-15 thousand rubles. The people do not hesitate to offer more insane options. Fortunately, the enterprising Chinese quickly realized how to get them to sell the old Xeon, and at the same time to earn extra money. Therefore, simultaneously with the CPU CPU generations of Sandy Bridge-EP and Ivy Bridge-EP, there are inexpensive motherboards of little known or completely unknown manufacturers. It is this combination – Xeon, “some motherboard on X79”, register ECC-memory DDR3 – and is the most profitable offer to date. The Chinese boards work quietly with conventional RAM modules, but register memory kits on AliExpress and Taobao are cheaper and allow additional savings. In addition, sellers are selling packages that immediately include one or another Xeon Sandy Bridge-EP, motherboard and RAM (almost always register).

As with any product purchased abroad, you can not do without pitfalls. Buying computer equipment abroad is always a risk, and in the case of sites like AliExpress and Taobao, the more so. Firstly, we contact unchecked sellers, and the availability of a rating system helps only in part. Although the sellers promise 100% working capacity of iron, no one is immune from fraud, marriage, substitution. Secondly, an official guarantee for such components is not provided, and the seller’s guarantee, even if it is provided, will not be easy to use. Thirdly, after the shipment there comes a tormenting expectation of the order, during which it remains only to hope that the mail of Russia and China will not be lost and will not break the parcel. In most cases everything costs, but, as Forest Gump said, shit happens.

Profitable processor, motherboard and memory to take on the site Taobao – it’s kind of AliExpress for its (for the Chinese). Nobody interferes with the use of third-party “purchasing” services. The cost of Chinese motherboards for the LGA2011 platform, which we’ll talk about further, on AliExpress for some reason is significantly overestimated. But the prices for the processor and RAM are quite tolerable.

Many sellers sell goods both individually and as a bundle. In the second case it is simply more convenient – the parcel will contain everything you need and when you receive it, you can immediately start assembling the PC.

LGA1151LGA1151LGA1151LGA1151There are no translations available. LGA1151

The processor Intel Xeon E5-2670 Intel Pentium G4560 AMD FX-8320E Intel Core i3-6100 Intel Core i5-7400 Intel Core i7-6400T (QHQG, L501C679)
The motherboard G218A-V1.1a H110 Express AMD 760G H110 Express H110 Express Z170 Express
The Memory 2 × 8 GB DDR3-1600 2 × 8 GB DDR4-2400 2 × 8 GB DDR3-1866 2 × 8 GB DDR4-2133 2 × 8 GB DDR4-2400 2 × 8 GB DDR4-2133
The price of 14 000 rub. (including delivery) 15 500 rubles. 17,000 rubles. 18,000 rubles. 22 500 rubles. 25,000 rubles.

As a result, we purchased a kit that included Xeon E5-2670, 16 GB of registered DDR3-1600 memory and motherboard of mATX form factor based on X79 Express. Such a set was costed taking into account all additional expenditures of 14,000 rubles. And it is noticeably cheaper than the options with modern Pentium G4560 or Core i3-6100. All components came unharmed – the seller did not spare the packaging material.

⇡ # Motherboard and main memory

In fact, to determine the motherboard for Xeon Sandy Bridge-EP is more difficult than with the processor itself. As already mentioned above, it’s very difficult and expensive to get a model on the X79 chipset of a well-known manufacturer. Among the Chinese proposals there are several inexpensive models, but all of them are not without flaws and require optimization. Formally, the Chinese motherboards for the LGA2011 platform are divided into two types. Although the name of the devices uses the “X79” marking, in most cases server chipsets Intel C602 / C604 are used.

The first and perhaps the most popular option is the motherboards of ATX form factor manufactured by HUANAN, as well as its clones. The original boards are labeled X79, the textolite or radiator has the name of the manufacturer. Clones are designated as X79Z – on such motherboards you can find the PCI slot (the original HUANAN does not have it). It is better to take new versions: 2.46 and 2.47 for X79 and 2.4b for X79Z. Old modifications, such as v150, 2.43 and rev 2.01, we recommend to avoid. First, there are no improved BIOS versions for them, which means that you will not be able to adjust the speed of even PWM fans, and also do not run RAM at an effective frequency of 1866 MHz. Secondly, these boards are not suitable for overclocking Xeon E5-1650.

HUANAN and clones are the most expensive options. Some models have a M.2 slot, but it works in SATA 3Gb / s mode, so it’s almost useless. But they are all equipped with two SATA connectors 6 Gb / s, so that to build a PC using SSD is quite suitable. In addition, most have an internal USB 3.0 connector.

The second type includes the motherboards for the platform LGA2011, made in the form factor mATX. They are cheaper, but they have fewer ports on the I / O panel, as well as a more dense layout of the components. The most running models belonging to the second type are marked G218a. Among them there are versions v1.0, v1.1a (this board was bought as a result) and v 1.1b. In addition, it is possible to meet boards marked MS-7777. They do not support register ECC memory, they do not have an internal USB 3.0 connector, even internal USB 2.0 is far from being all working. And these motherboards are equipped with only three expansion slots. Another option is the board with the marking YW-X79-E. They have support for ECC REG DDR3 memory. These devices are found less often than others, and therefore their capabilities have not been studied by enthusiasts until the end.

In the end, you need to choose among motherboards, power converter which is equipped with a metal radiator. For assembly in the case, it’s best that the board has an internal USB 3.0 connector. Plus register memory is relatively inexpensive now. In general, we look towards models 2.46 / 2.47, 2.4b and v1.1a. We chose G218a, giving preference to a more compact form factor. And this motherboard costs less than ATX-analogues for 1 000-2 000 rubles.

The chipset (we are still dealing with a chip manufactured by the 65-nm process technology) for all Chinese motherboards is cooled by a small aluminum radiator. In a case with a mediocre air circulation, the chip most likely will not last long.

The marking of connectors on a textolite is similar to the one used by MSI in its solutions.


Package Contents

The seller put a simple cooler together with the processor, the motherboard and the memory. Also in the box we found an instruction in English, a driver disk, a pair of SATA cables, a plug for the I / O panel on the chassis and a cooler adapter.


Please note that the LGA2011 processor socket in the G218A-V1.1a and other “Chinese” is designed slightly differently than we are used to seeing in the serial motherboards of well-known brands. It has no fixing threaded holes at the edges, but four holes are drilled in the textolite, the distances between which correspond to the standard LGA1366. Such a fastening system was used in boards based on the X58 Express chipset. It turns out that with any Chinese motherboards compatible any coolers, the attachment of which is intended for use on LGA1366-platforms. If such support is not provided, then the cooling system must be selected among the models that are attached by means of a crossbar with two eyes on the ends. For example, Deepcool Gammaxx S40 is suitable. Just use the adapter that comes with the kit. First, install it, then cling to the eyes of the cooler, as if we are installing a cooling system for the AMD processor.

The device has four DIMM slots, which means Xeon Sandy Bridge-EP processors with a 4-channel DDR3 controller will be able to fully realize its capabilities. The v1.1a model supports register ECC memory.

Immediately striking unsuccessful wiring of some components. The internal USB 3.0 connector is inconveniently disconnected. And installing a long video card equipped with a dual-slot cooling system will close the PCI Express x1 near it and two 3 Gb / s SATA connectors.

By the way, all in all, the G218a has six connectors for connecting drives. SATA ports of 6 Gb / s are marked in red, and 3 Gb / s in blue. Also on the PCB there are pads for connecting the cabinet mini-jacks, COM and just three USB 2.0 connectors.

The board received only three connectors for connecting fans. Two of them are four-contact. About the adjustment of the rotation speed of the “turntables”, we will tell in more detail below.

The power subsystem has seven phases. Its elements are cooled by a small aluminum radiator of asymmetrical shape. A screw fastener is used, a small layer of thermal paste is applied between the power converter and the radiator. In the circuit for each channel there is one choke and a pair of transistors M3004D produced by UBIQ Semiconductor. Controls the power subsystem of the PWM controller ISL6366. I note that the design of G218a uses exclusively solid capacitors.



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