Building a 16 Core, 32 Thread Beast for <$1500

These days, CPUs aren’t getting much faster. We’re hitting a plateau with Intel as the top dog and competition for the high-end isn’t nearly as fierce, at least until AMD releases their fabled Zen architecture.

I’ve been looking to upgrade the Core i5 4690k (OC’d) that sits in my primary workstation and have been sitting waiting for several years. It’s fast enough for when I’m gaming or compiling code, but it runs into issues when I’m doing both at the same time.

Luckily for you and me, computers still age and companies are still shedding old servers after the warranty is up. Even a few year old CPU like the Xeon E5–2670 V1 benchmarks favorably with a modern Core i7 6700k, despite a multi-year gap. Plus the Xeon costs a fraction of the price of the modern CPU!

Given that, I decided to dig deeper and compare dollar-per-dollar what I could build used vs new. After researching and skimming Reddit + Ebay for the various options, I stumbled upon Natex. They sell a mean CPU/Motherboard/RAM combo for very cheap ($588 at time of writing) that solves my needs quite nicely.

After assembling the parts list, the build I decided on has the following parts:

This will be running many VMs and will serve as the backbone for my home computing operations, while letting me achieve 60fps when I’m gaming.

Additionally, I’ll be sticking my old dual Radeon 280X’s into this box and leveraging the CPUs VT-d to setup “headless” boxes for when friends come over via PCI-E handoff. I’ll post an update once I get this all setup!

Cheers,
-Free