Update on the 8 core machine:
The 8 core machine came out perfectly with only a few very minor changes from what I originally envisioned.
The case is a DELL P490, the face plate was repainted. The Dell T5400 board did drop right into the case with the exception of the back panel and the front panel connector.
The front panel was an easy fix, I simply ordered a front panel connector for a T5400. It fit in the front face mount and the board. No issues.
The back panel was also an easy fix: I simply cut the area out where the plug-ins were different. I did this while the case was apart and I very carefully vacuumed it after to make sure there were no pieces of metal left. Next I took a black acoustic guitar pick guard. These are stick-on thin plastic. I made a template from the existing back and then cut it out of the pick guard and pressed it into place. Overcut; it enclosed the area and looks like it came that way.
There are 5 fan plug ins on the T5400, only 4 on the P490. I ordered a Delta 5 pin 4 wire fan and mounted it in the back panel.
Other than that everything worked from the first boot with a few preparations.
First; be aware that the way Windows records Serial numbers now that you may have to purchase a new copy of your flavor of windows or spend some phone time reactivating your copy. A DELL board for a DELL board presented no problems for me.
The Bios: I upgraded the T5400 board to dual quad XEON’s at 3.16 ghz. Not the top of the line the board will handle, but plenty fast and a good dollar bargain. The machine did boot, but with a warning that the processors were not supported. However windows ran them anyway. I went online, downloaded the version 11 upgrade for this bios and I used the Executable file, ran it and it installed fine.
There were no other issues with the machine. It runs my video game building software, Direct X Modeler, And UV skinner with no problems. It also handles the LMMS DAW, Audacity with a ton of extra plug ins. Photoscape, FotoSketcher, OpenOffice, Microsoft NET framework. Open GL, Direct X, My Akai Midi board, Chord Pulse and A73 Piano station. GIMP, Hydrogen, Microsoft C++ Visual, Microsoft office and a ton of other software both 64 bit and 32 bit.
Chrome is very fast on this machine. Windows Video Maker is also very fast.
End results: This technology was not meant for building a desktop machine, it was meant for a server. It is very fast, 8 cores and 24 gig of system memory is hard to kill. The two Radeon cards work perfectly in non SLI format and run the four 19 inch flat panels with no problems at all. In the BIOS I simply chose the second option for the PCIE 16 video slots and the bios automatically loads the cards to work together on an extended desktop.
The case, T5400 board, processors and memory, drives, video cards, extra fan and a second extra fan I installed that pulls air directly off the cooling stacks for the XEON’s, cost me less than $200.00 total. The rest was working on it.
Most of the information I used for the two boards came off DELL PDF SPEC sheets you can find online. That way I was relying on what DELL said would work: With the exception of installing the T5400 board in the P490 case. That was mentioned in an article I came across and intrigued me: However no one in the article seemed to know how to do it or if it would work and so I did it myself to find out.
The monitors are used class A condition, a little less than $40 each. All the parts for this build were used; purchased from New Egg, Amazon and eBay. I built a longer desktop from 3/4 inch BCX plywood and an old steel table base while I was at it. Makes for a solid desk top with plenty of space.
Hope this helped or at least showed you that you don’t have to spend a thousand bucks or even half that to get a fast machine that will handle pretty much anything you throw at it and will last you some time, Dell.