Introduction and Packaging
With the release of Intel's Haswell-EP Xeon processors, we see a large shift in how much computing power workstations can provide. In the single socket market, you can install CPUs that can run up to 18 cores/36 threads, and anywhere from two to four GPUs. The sweet spot with these boards is the ability to run three GPUs; if you need more than that, you might be better off looking at dual socket systems.
Here we have GIGABYTE's new MW50-SV0 single socket 2011-E workstation motherboard that has hit the sweet spot right on the button. When we look at the feature load out for the MWO-SV0, we find you can install a wide range of processors depending on budget and needs. Next is a standard number of RAM slots that allow you to install 64GBs of RAM using 8GB sticks, which is plenty for most applications.
The PCIe layout is ample enough to run up to three video cards, or two video cards and a more powerful storage controller. The mezzanine card slot adds network capabilities that you would normally have to use a PCIe slot for.
So far, everything looks nice for the MW50-SV0. Let's look at the retail package, and then we will look at the MW50-SV0's performance.
The front of the retail box is simple, and yet has a nice, pleasing design. There are no noticeable markings to indicate what is inside the retail box. You will find what product is inside by looking at a sticker on the side of the box. This box can be used for many different motherboards, which results in lower packaging costs.
Here we see the back of the retail box. Just like the font of the box, the back is rather generic, and can be used for many different motherboards.
After opening the box, we get our first look at the insides. The motherboard comes packaged in an anti-static bag, and foam inserts surround the sides to protect it.
After removing the motherboard and foam inserts, we find a cardboard insert that flips open to reveal the accessories.
The MW50-SV0 does not come with a great deal of accessories; we find a minimal assortment of parts here. However, it does appear that we did not receive the full accessory list with our review sample. Here is the full break down of all the accessories that are included in the retail package, as listed on the GIGABYTE website:
- 1x Driver CD
- 1x I/O shield
- 1x User manual
- 2x SATA III 6Gb/s cables (500mm)
- 1x Mini-PCIe card bracket
- 1x CrossFire bridge
- 1x SLI bridge
- 1x Tri SLI bridge
Specifications and Layout
The specifications for the MW50-SV0 are typical for an ATX workstation motherboard, and include 3x PCIe slots, GbE LAN ports, and ample SATA ports for storage.
Here we see a detailed block diagram showing how all the input/output ports connect to different chips on the motherboard. We noticed that this says the Intel Chipset C610 is used, but it should say Intel C612.
Here we get our first look at the MW50-SV0 Workstation Motherboard.
The CPU socket and RAM slots clearly dominate the motherboard, taking up about half of the available space. The next thing we noticed is the mSATA connector is tucked away between the SATA ports and RAM slots, without much room for cooling. Some of the mSATA drives that we have tested run rather warm, so be sure to have good air flow across this area if you use an mSATA drive.
This is just an observation on our part, but the chipset heat sink should be rotated so that the GIGABYTE logo reads the correct orientation when installed in a case; on our sample, it would be upside down. Here is the full list of connections and headers found on the MW50-SV0:
- 1x 24-pin ATX main power connector
- 1x eight-pin ATX 12V power connector
- 1x CPU fan header
- 4x System fan headers
- 1x USB 3.0 vertical Type A
- 1x USB 3.0 header
- 1x USB 2.0 header
- 1x Front audio header
- 1x S/PDIF-In header
- 1x PMBus connector
- 2x SATA SGPIO headers
- 1x Clear CMOS jumper
- 13x SATA III 6Gb/s ports
- 1x SATA DOM jumper
- 1x Chassis intrusion header
- 1x Front panel header
- 1x HDD back plane board header
- 1x Serial header
- 1x TPM header
- 1x JPI header
- 1x BIOS recovery jumper
- 2x PCIe switch jumpers
- 1x PMBus selection jumper
Here we see the PCIe slots, which are:
- 2x PCIe x16 (Gen3 x16 bus) slots
- 1x PCIe x16 (Gen3 x8 bus) slot
(These support 2-way / 3-way NVIDIA SLI / AMD CrossFireX)
- 1x PCIe x4 mezzanine card slot, which is just about the RAM slots
- 1x PCI slot, which is the white PCI slot on the far left
Now we are looking at the lower left side of the motherboard.
Intel C612 chipset:
8x SATA 3.0 6Gb/s ports (white) along the bottom
Marvell 88SE9230 controller:
4x SATA 3.0 6Gb/s (white) along the left edge
1x SATA 3.0 6Gb/s port supporting SATA DOM (red)
And between the white SATA ports and the RAM slots, we find an mSATA 6Gb/s slot.
Here we are looking at the upper right section of the motherboard. This is where the main I/O connectors on the back panel are located, and one of the eight-pin power connectors is just left of the VRM heat sink. We also see the mezzanine card slot just above the RAM slots at the left side.
The lower right side of the motherboard has the main 24-pin power connector at the bottom edge of the motherboard.
Now we are looking at the back I/O ports. At the left, we see a PS/2 mouse/keyboard port with two USB 2.0 ports below. The next stack has a Gigabit LAN port with two USB 2.0 ports below. The following two stacks have Gigabit LAN ports, and two USB 3.0 ports below. The final stack has audio output connections with a COM port as the last connection.
The MW50-SV0 uses Socket 2011-3 for the CPU. This socket is slightly different from the normal Socket 2011, so v2 CPUs will not fit the MW50-SV0. However, the heat sink mounts are the same, so older heat sinks for Socket 2011 will work fine.
As an optional accessory, the MW50-SV0 can mount a 2x 10GbE SFP+ LAN card connected to the mezzanine card slot. This slot uses 4x PCIe lanes, and requires a custom mounting socket. We like this LAN expansion card, as it frees up PCIe slots that can be used for GPUs.
With the MW50-SV0, WS BIOS is typical for server motherboards.
Here we are looking at the Main screen, which you will see when you enter the BIOS. Here you can see basic information about the motherboard, including BIOS version, how much memory is available, and the date/time.
The rest of the BIOS screen shots are typical for motherboards of this type, so we will just show what is available.
Test System Setup
The processor we will be using is the Intel Xeon E5-2698 v3, which features 16 cores with hyper-threading, and will supply the processing power.
The Intel C612 Chipset will provide support for up to 18 core processors.
In our tests, we will be using the new Crucial DDR4 memory, which has a speed of 2133 MHz, and a rating of CL15. We will use eight 16GB sticks of these kits, and that will bring us to 128GB of RAM. We have already looked at these memory kits, which you can find here: Crucial DDR4-2133 DRx4 RDIMM Memory Review - Testing up to 256GB.
Here we can see the timings of the Crucial DDR4 memory that we will be using in our tests.
CINEBENCH is a real-world, cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer's performance capabilities. The test scenario uses all of your system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene. This scene makes use of various different algorithms to stress all available processor cores. You can also run this test with a single-core mode to give a single-core rating.
Here we are looking at our CINEBENCH 11.5 tests; the MW50-SV0 shows a good score here, and it also shows the fastest scores in the multi-core tests for single socket motherboards.
The MW50-SV0 has a good score in CINEBENCH R15, which shows very good performance. The MW50SV0 shows strong single-threaded and multi-core results.
wPrime is a leading multi-threaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance. This is a great test to use to rate the system speed; it also works as a stress test to see how well the system's cooling is performing.
In wPrime, the MW50-SV0 is showing good scores again. So far, the MW50-SV0 is showing very strong results in our tests.
Memory & System Benchmarks
AIDA64 memory bandwidth benchmarks (Memory Read, Memory Write, and Memory Copy) measure the maximum achievable memory data transfer bandwidth.
Memory bandwidth for the MW50-SV0 is looking very good. These numbers are about half of what a dual CPU system would get; it does show good bandwidth with this setup, and compares well with other motherboards.
Intel Optimized LINPACK Benchmark is a generalization of the LINPACK 1000 benchmark. It solves a dense (real*8) system of linear equations (Ax=b), measures the amount of time it takes to factor and solve the system, converts that time into a performance rate, and tests the results for accuracy.
LINPACK is a measure of a computer's floating-point rate of execution ability, measured in GFLOPS (Floating-point Operations per Second); ten-billion FLOPS is equal to ten GFLOPS. LINPACK is a very heavy compute application that can take advantage of the new AVX2 instruction. Since it puts a very high load on the system, it is also a good stress test program.
In LINPACK, the MW50-SV0 motherboard is showing strong bandwidth compared to other motherboards.
PCMark 8 is the latest version in the series of PC benchmarking tools by Futuremark. It is fully compatible with Windows 8, and can be run under Windows 7.
We ran our PCMark 8 tests on a basic system; we used only one NVIDIA Quadro K5000 here. Using more video cards would increase this score a great deal, so this is only for reference.
SPECwpc_v1.0.2 is a workstation benchmark that measures key aspects of workstation applications.
These tests do put a huge load on the system, and take approximately eight hours to run on this system. SPECwpc puts a heavy load on the GPU. Even small increases in scores show a big improvement in performance. Certain parts of this test rely on storage, so using setups with SSDs and RAID 0 would increase those scores.
Geekbench - Stream
Geekbench 3 is Primate Labs' cross-platform processor benchmark with a new scoring system that separates single-core and multi-core performance, and new workloads that simulate real-world scenarios. It also includes STREAM based memory tests, which we will include in our reviews.
Here we are looking at the single-core STREAM memory tests. Bandwidth shows above average results. The MW50-SV0 shows strong memory optimization, and appears well-tuned for memory bandwidth.
Now we are looking at multi-core STREAM tests. The MW50-SV0 again shows strong memory bandwidth results in this test.
UnixBench and SPEC CPU2006v1.2
UnixBench has been around for a long time now, and is a good general-purpose bench to test on Linux based systems. This is a system benchmark, and it shows the performance of single-threaded and multi-threaded tasks.
Synthetic benchmarks only show part of the performance of a motherboard. When using tests that are more complex, we will start to see a different trend in the scores. UnixBench shows the MW50-SV0 and E5-2698 v3 are getting average results in this test.
SPEC CPU2006 v1.2
SPEC CPU2006v1.2 measures compute intensive performance across the system using realistic benchmarks to rate real performance.
In our testing with SPEC CPU2006 we use the following basic commands to run these tests:
" Runspec --tune=base --config=tweaktown.cfg ," then " int ," or " fp ."
To do multi-threaded, we add in " --rate=32 ."
When SPEC CPU first came out, these tests could take up to a week to run, but as computers become faster, our tests now take up to four days for a full run, and even less on some systems. The user can do many things to effect the results of CPU2006 runs, including compiler optimizations, add-ons like Smartheap, and different commands used to start the tests.
This benchmark has many different commands to use depending on what the user is looking for. For our tests, we used basic commands that run a full test with a base tune.
Here you can see the SPEC scores after full runs for Integer (int) and Floating Point (fp) tests.
Single-core runs show how fast (speed) a CPU can perform a given task. In the multi-core runs, we set SPEC CPU2006v1.2 to use all threads to measure the throughput of the system.
The additional cores/threads of this system have a huge impact on performance in these tests and really show the amount of horsepower that a single socket motherboard has.
Single-threaded results are still very important, but when you need many single-threaded apps to run; moving to a CPU with more cores is the way to go.
This is where the MW50-SV0 and Dual E5-2698 v3's start to shine, multi-threaded interger workloads.
CPU2006 is showing strong multi-core results on the MW50-SV0. Let's take a look at the individual test scores.
Looking at the results of single-threaded integer runs, we can get an idea of speed at which the Dual E5-2698 v3's can crunch through the different integer tests. Not all CPUs are equal here, and ones that have a higher speed will perform these tests faster. Naturally, using an overclocked system, or CPUs with a higher stock speed will generate higher results.
Now we run the test using all 16 cores/32 threads on the E5-2698 v3 processor to measure the throughput of the system. In this test, more cores/threads will have a greater effect on the outcome.
Just like the integer tests, we now run the floating-point tests in single-threaded (speed) mode.
Here we see the results of the multi-core floating-point run that uses all 32 cores/64 threads on the Dual E5-2698 v3 processor motherboard. Like the multi-threaded integer test, more cores/threads will have a greater impact on the test.
Just like the integer multi-threaded tests, the MW50-SV0 and E5-2698 v3 combo really takes off here.
Power Consumption & Final Thoughts
We have upgraded our power testing equipment, and now use a Yokogawa WT310 power meter for testing. The Yokogawa WT310 feeds its data through a USB cable to another machine where we can capture the test results.
To test total system power use, we used AIDA64 Stability test to load the CPU, and then recorded the results. We also now add in the power use for a server from off state, to hitting the power button to turn it on, and take it all the way to the desktop. This gives us data on power consumption during the boot up process.
The MW50-SV0 uses ~80 watts at idle on the desktop, and it peaks out at ~270 watts under full load. The power use is slightly higher than regular workstation motherboards because we have the extra NVIDIA Quadro K5000 installed on our motherboard.
With the MW50-SV0, we see peak power use of only ~200 watts during the boot up process. The system settles down to ~80 watts after the boot up is completed.
As single socket 2011-E workstation motherboards start making it into the testing lab, we get our first look at GIGABYTE's offerings.
The MW50-SV0 does not include a lot of extra fluff that you do not need, features are specific, and serve a useful purpose, so you do not end up with a high-priced board that you never use half of the feature list on.
Opening the retail box for the first time is not impressive, as GIGABYTE serves up a retail package aimed at lower costs. However, you still get enough accessories that would allow you to put together a fully functional system.
We have seen several systems now that come with 4x PCIe slots, which might seem like overkill for many systems; 3x slots are more than enough for the majority of systems these days. If you do use up all 3x slots with GPUs, and need a faster network, you can go for the optional double 10GbE SFP+ network mezzanine card, which should give you a nice price break vs a high-end PCIe network card.
Many non-enthusiasts do not overclock their systems, and if you are using Xeon CPUs, you really cannot overclock them, so there is no need to purchase a workstation motherboard that includes this ability. The MW50-SV0 is a workstation motherboard that performs above the other workstation motherboards we have tested. In some cases, the performance edge is small, but in several tests, there is a clear edge in performance.
We are very impressed with the price and performance of the MW50-SV0. We can nitpick about cosmetic issues and accessory load out with the sample we received, which we think are just simple oversights, but the fact is, when the motherboard is installed in a case, you won't notice these issues. Also, drivers and PDFs can be downloaded from GIGABYTE's website, so these issues can be overlooked as well.
|Quality including Design and Build||95%|
|Bundle and Packaging||90%|
|Value for Money||98%|
The Bottom Line: Feature load out that meets the sweet spot and performance is just what GIGABYTE's MW50-SV0 provides, making this a good choice for your workstation motherboard needs.
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