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Motherboard to fit SLI setup + 2 PCI-E 4x devices?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
The intention is to build a SLI setup with 2 additional PCIE 4x devices: An Asus Strix Raid 7.1 DLX Soundcard and an Intel 750 series 1.2TB SSD.

I'm concerned about the space that all these 4 cards would take, and I'm pretty sure only (if any) selected motherboards would support all these 4 devices.

I do not plan on buying neither external DACs or Sata SSD's. Only if there's no existing motherboard to support all these togheter.

EDIT: Additional question: Is PCI-E lanes a concern? If that's the case, then I'll have to change the plans and save some extra money for an i7 5930K
Edited by Wagnelles - 1/23/16 at 6:16pm
post #2 of 14
Ah, SLI. Fun feature. Problem: Nvidia only allows you to use SLI with at least a PCIe x8 slot. It doesn't matter that a PCIe 3.0 x4 slot has twice the bandwidth of a PCIe 1.1 x8 slot, you still can't use it.

Don't think about it too hard.

You could pull this off with a 5820K, using 8+8+4+4 lanes. That leaves 4 lanes to spare later on, plus you haven't even touched the chipset. X99 motherboards tend to come with lots of PCIe x16 slots running at x4 through x16. You might be able to find a Z170 board that supports this, but it looks a bit difficult. I can't find anything under $200 that looks like it has a chance of supporting this configuration. X99 will last a bit longer too since, in about ten years, a 22-core Broadwell Xeon will be affordable as an upgrade. wink.gif

EDIT: It's a bit hard to decipher, but I think this one will work. It looks like, using a 5820K, the first x16 slot will run in x8 mode, the second slot in x4 mode, the third slot in x8 mode, and finally the fourth slot in x8 mode. There's really no reason to get a 5930K in my opinion. If you're spending enough money on quad-SLI, or tri-SLI and a high-end SSD, you can afford another $400 for a 5960X. I'm sure there are other motherboards with a similar configuration, but this was cheap and didn't have a two-star rating. thumb.gif
Edited by CynicalUnicorn - 1/23/16 at 6:28pm
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post #3 of 14
What about a board with a PLX chip? Like the high end Z170 with 4x x16 lanes?
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post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duality92 View Post

What about a board with a PLX chip? Like the high end Z170 with 4x x16 lanes?

They'll work, but they're incredibly expensive. I estimate $600 for a 6600K and a motherboard like that given the shortages in 14nm chips. Alternatively, a 5820K and stock-standard X99 board will be around the same price and overall better.
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post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CynicalUnicorn View Post

Ah, SLI. Fun feature. Problem: Nvidia only allows you to use SLI with at least a PCIe x8 slot. It doesn't matter that a PCIe 3.0 x4 slot has twice the bandwidth of a PCIe 1.1 x8 slot, you still can't use it.

Don't think about it too hard.

You could pull this off with a 5820K, using 8+8+4+4 lanes. That leaves 4 lanes to spare later on, plus you haven't even touched the chipset. X99 motherboards tend to come with lots of PCIe x16 slots running at x4 through x16. You might be able to find a Z170 board that supports this, but it looks a bit difficult. I can't find anything under $200 that looks like it has a chance of supporting this configuration. X99 will last a bit longer too since, in about ten years, a 22-core Broadwell Xeon will be affordable as an upgrade. wink.gif

EDIT: It's a bit hard to decipher, but I think this one will work. It looks like, using a 5820K, the first x16 slot will run in x8 mode, the second slot in x4 mode, the third slot in x8 mode, and finally the fourth slot in x8 mode. There's really no reason to get a 5930K in my opinion. If you're spending enough money on quad-SLI, or tri-SLI and a high-end SSD, you can afford another $400 for a 5960X. I'm sure there are other motherboards with a similar configuration, but this was cheap and didn't have a two-star rating. thumb.gif

What an amazing reply. It's not everyday that I get such a helpful post in a thread. Thank you very much!

Let's start: I forgot to mention, but it's a 2-Way SLI setup. Not 3 or 4. When I said 4 cards I meant both video cards + Asus sound card + Intel SSD. Considering that each video card will take 2 slots, I was concerned about the space. I also didn't realized that I can actually use a 4x card in a standard 16x PCI-E. How dumb of me doh.gif

I don't mind buying high-end motherboards, as long as everything works fine. I'm long from deciding which motherboard should I get. I was even searching for "5820K vs 6700k" threads the other day. Motherboard will probably be the very last piece of hardware that I'll take the time to choose properly hahah

So, am I OK with a total of 4 PCI-E devices then? Feel free to suggest anything thumb.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duality92 View Post

What about a board with a PLX chip? Like the high end Z170 with 4x x16 lanes?

Sorry, but I don't know a single thing about PLX. Care to explain? Which benefits would I have for buying a Z170 motherboard with this?
Edited by Wagnelles - 1/23/16 at 7:15pm
post #6 of 14
Your options are to go either X99 (which I recommend) or PLX. I recommend that save up for X99.

You might be able to get by on a 5820K (which is actually cheaper these days than a 6700k with the shortages)
  • GPU 1 at x8
  • GPU 2 at x8
  • PCI-E device 1 at x 4
  • PCI-E device 2 at x 4

This would take 24 lanes. Check the motherboard manuals carefully before buying to ensure that what I am proposing is possible on the X99 board. If you need both GPUs to run at x16, then yes, a 5930k is needed.

PLX chips don't quite solve the problem of more lanes in that:
  • The CPU still only has 16 lanes - what a PLX does is that it acts like a switch enabling more lanes for communication between PCI-E devices
  • It adds a bit of latency, which can negatively affect your benchmarks
  • Depending on what you are doing, it may or may not be adversely affected

I suppose there is also the benefit of having 6 cores on X99 vs 4 on Z170, although Haswell is a bit slower than Skylake and a HEDT CPU will clock perhaps 100-200 MHz slower than a comparable mainstream CPU.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Duality92 View Post

What about a board with a PLX chip? Like the high end Z170 with 4x x16 lanes?

Either that or an X99 board would do, but as I noted, the X99 is a better option. I speak as an owner of 2 PLX boards.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CynicalUnicorn View Post

They'll work, but they're incredibly expensive. I estimate $600 for a 6600K and a motherboard like that given the shortages in 14nm chips. Alternatively, a 5820K and stock-standard X99 board will be around the same price and overall better.

PLX boards can be as little as $300 USD. See here for example:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/9967/supermicro-quietly-launches-the-c7z170oce-multigpu-focused-with-plx8747-for-300

But yeah, expect to spend as much on a PLX Z170 board as you would on a midranged X99 board.
Edited by CrazyElf - 1/24/16 at 9:02am
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post #7 of 14
A lot of good answers here. X99 all the way. At some point, you can upgrade your CPU to make use of all 40 PCIe lanes. I own an Intel 750, it's awesome.
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrazyElf View Post


PLX chips don't quite solve the problem of more lanes in that:
  • The CPU still only has 16 lanes - what a PLX does is that it acts like a switch enabling more lanes for communication between PCI-E devices
  • It adds a bit of latency, which can negatively affect your benchmarks
  • Depending on what you are doing, it may or may not be adversely affected

This latency thing may not be a good thing for me. I really don't mind benchmark scorings, but I don't want to give any excuses to the devices to start failing on me. Expecially the soundcard and the SSD. X99 It is then.

I don't think I'll be needing the X99 King motherboard here, but if you can recommend a high end one with lot's of PCI-E slots and great overclocking capability, then I'd go for it.
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrazyElf View Post

PLX boards can be as little as $300 USD. See here for example:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/9967/supermicro-quietly-launches-the-c7z170oce-multigpu-focused-with-plx8747-for-300

But yeah, expect to spend as much on a PLX Z170 board as you would on a midranged X99 board.

Ok, cool. That's not bad. That said, I'm not entirely sure it's required. I forgot about Z170's extra lanes. doh.gif

Take a look through these. All we need are a pair of x8 slots plus a couple x4 slots from the chipset. I have an older, smaller version of this one, and the slot spacing is enough that it ought to work. Either way, it doesn't look like using the chipset to the fullest is a standard feature. rolleyes.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wagnelles View Post

What an amazing reply. It's not everyday that I get such a helpful post in a thread. Thank you very much!

Let's start: I forgot to mention, but it's a 2-Way SLI setup. Not 3 or 4. When I said 4 cards I meant both video cards + Asus sound card + Intel SSD. Considering that each video card will take 2 slots, I was concerned about the space. I also didn't realized that I can actually use a 4x card in a standard 16x PCI-E. How dumb of me doh.gif

I don't mind buying high-end motherboards, as long as everything works fine. I'm long from deciding which motherboard should I get. I was even searching for "5820K vs 6700k" threads the other day. Motherboard will probably be the very last piece of hardware that I'll take the time to choose properly hahah

So, am I OK with a total of 4 PCI-E devices then? Feel free to suggest anything thumb.gif

No, I got what you meant. It's just that a 5820K is almost always enough, and if you really need a 5930K, you're probably spending enough money to skip it and go to a 5960X.

But yeah, your configuration is pretty easy. Lots of options out there, but they're mostly the server/enthusiast platform. I must question why the sound card needs that much bandwidth though. Whatever. It's pretty easy to accommodate. The problem will be price as said before.

Quote:
Sorry, but I don't know a single thing about PLX. Care to explain? Which benefits would I have for buying a Z170 motherboard with this?

As for PLX switches. Those are devices that are glorified multiplexers. A multiplexer takes an input and, depending on a signal, can choose one of many outputs. For PCIe, this means that two slots can both be x16 simultaneously. This is useful on Z97 and earlier and, even though it added a ton of lanes to the chipset, Z170 to a lesser extent. Those chipset lanes can only form x4 links still, so you'll need a PLX switch for tri- and quad-SLI.

It doesn't actually increase the bandwidth, and each slot should average out to about an x8 slot, but it is recognized as a PCIe x16 link. Or, going further, an x8 link going through a PLX switch will average out to x4 in each slot, but it will still be recognized as two x8 slots. This is important, and Nvidia will allow SLI across it. You can't magically add bandwidth, but you can pull new lanes from the aether until you run out of addresses for sending packets.
Edited by CynicalUnicorn - 1/23/16 at 7:35pm
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post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CynicalUnicorn View Post

Take a look through these. All we need are a pair of x8 slots plus a couple x4 slots from the chipset. I have an older, smaller version of this one, and the slot spacing is enough that it ought to work. Either way, it doesn't look like using the chipset to the fullest is a standard feature. rolleyes.gif
No, I got what you meant. It's just that a 5820K is almost always enough, and if you really need a 5930K, you're probably spending enough money to skip it and go to a 5960X.

I'll definetly give them a look. Problems is that I need to make sure the board is actually available in my country. I'll have to deal with some extreme importing taxes already due to a gigantic and heavy ASUS PG348Q order. Life sucks.
Quote:
I must question why the sound card needs that much bandwidth though.

It does even requires a 4-Pin PCI-E power connector tongue.gif Asus Strix DLX is their newest flagship soundcard. I need them because I'll be using some great headphones with them (and a true 7.1 setup in a near future), including the gimmicky Razer Tiamat 7.1

This card is better be working for the next 5/6 years at least.
Quote:
As for PLX switches. Those are devices that are glorified multiplexers. A multiplexer takes an input and, depending on a signal, can choose one of many outputs. For PCIe, this means that two slots can both be x16 simultaneously. This is useful on Z97 and earlier and, even though it added a ton of lanes to the chipset, Z170 to a lesser extent. Those chipset lanes can only form x4 links still, so you'll need a PLX switch for tri- and quad-SLI.

It doesn't actually increase the bandwidth, and each slot should average out to about an x8 slot, but it is recognized as a PCIe x16 link. Or, going further, an x8 link going through a PLX switch will average out to x4 in each slot, but it will still be recognized as two x8 slots. This is important, and Nvidia will allow SLI across it. You can't magically add bandwidth, but you can pull new lanes from the aether until you run out of addresses for sending packets.

Thank you once again for the detailed information. You deserve a cookie for that. However, I think it's more safe to go with X99 this time. As I said, I don't want to give any excuses for the devices to stop working or something.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BarneyRubble View Post

A lot of good answers here. X99 all the way. At some point, you can upgrade your CPU to make use of all 40 PCIe lanes. I own an Intel 750, it's awesome.

Legend says the 750 can make any loading screens strangely disappear. Tell me more about it, I can't wait to test one! rolleyes.gif
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