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I am planning a build for machine learning purposes, more specifically, training neural network models for image classification/localization etc, budget is below 2000 euro.

Provisional build is listed here:

PCPartPicker part list: https://pcpartpicker.com/list/MW8PHN

Price breakdown by merchant: https://pcpartpicker.com/list/MW8PHN/by_merchant/

CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1231 V3 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($239.99 @ SuperBiiz)

CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i 77.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($99.99 @ Corsair)

Motherboard: MSI Z97-GAMING 5 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard

Memory: Crucial Ballistix 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($63.98 @ Directron)

Memory: Crucial Ballistix 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($63.98 @ Directron)

Storage: Intel 600p Series 512GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive ($169.99 @ SuperBiiz)

Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB Superclocked Gaming ACX 3.0 Video Card ($499.99 @ B&H)

Case: NZXT S340 (Black/Red) ATX Mid Tower Case ($64.99 @ Newegg)

Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA NEX 650W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($74.89 @ OutletPC)

Total: $1277.80

I have a few questions in mind:

  • I have opted for a Xeon CPU without integrated graphics, because I already have a GPU on board. Will that make it difficult for me to install an OS (Ubuntu Linux) on the machine? I am a bit concerned about the "you need to install a driver to display things, but you need to display things in order to install the system to begin with" catch-22.

  • I don't need a gaming/fancy motherboard since this is supposed to be just a number cruncher. In fact, I don't even need a keyboard or monitor once the system is setup: I can just ssh into it and execute programs. So can I save a bit money here without compromising performance?

  • Does the power supply listed above have enough wattage to support the whole build? What if I want to add more GPUs to it in the future?

  • Any other suggestions will also be welcome.

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  • Yes, graphics card usually support some low level basic display mode that is supported by most OS installers.

  • As the motherboard is the interconnect for all components you might not want to spend too little but you certainly don't need WiFi, BT etc.. You need to make the decision.

  • It should. You could try to crosscheck with some of the many calculators available from power supply vendors. In addition PCPartPicker gives a rough estimate. As for future additions it would depend on what and how much.

  • Personally I'd use a classic air cooler and your current list is missing case fans.

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  • Seems the NZXT case includes fans: i.imgur.com/zTdckiQ.png – qed Apr 25 '17 at 11:40
  • Would it be good strategy to just buy a 1000w power supply to be on the safe side? – qed Apr 25 '17 at 11:47
  • If you want to blow your money it, sure. Otherwise? I'd rather not use that. Especially if you take your electricity bill into account. The question is what kind of upgrade plan you got in mind? Are those additional GPUs more a "maybe someday" or "within a week of buying the system"? From what I can see that PSU should be sufficient (at least for a single card). You might want to double check motherboard and CPU compatibility. I do remember some artificial barriers for Xeon on consumer motherboards. – Seth Apr 25 '17 at 12:06
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    @qed I estimate your peak load would be 350W, The measured efficiency of that PSU is 89% at half load, so that means to supply 350W the PSU would need to generate perhaps 393W, with the wasted 11% given off mainly as heat. If you needed 550W (near the maximum the PSU can supply) the efficiency drops down to 86% (still very good) which means the PSU would then have to generate 643W, so it would be getting quite hot at times. – CJM Apr 26 '17 at 9:34
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    @qed - finally... if you needed 550W, then it may be better getting a 1KW PSU running at half load, rather than that 650W PSU running at full load. OK, I'm done - here endeth the lecture. – CJM Apr 26 '17 at 9:41

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