Building An Intel Xeon E3 v5 "Skylake" Linux System

Written by Michael Larabel in Computers on 13 December 2015 at 11:00 AM EST. Page 1 of 6. 19 Comments.

Now that Xeon "Skylake" processors are becoming easier to find at major Internet retailers along with supported motherboards, here are the parts I used for assembling an Intel Xeon E3 1245 v5 Skylake system if you are interested in doing a similar Linux workstation build. While my complete Xeon E3 1245 v5 Linux review will come shortly, enclosed are also some initial Ubuntu benchmarks as well.

First up, for the processor I went with the Intel Xeon E3 1245 v5 at around $300 USD. This processor is a quad-core with Hyper Threading. The E3-1245v5 has a 3.5GHz base frequency with 3.9GHz turbo frequency. This $300 Xeon processor is similar in specs to the Core i5 6600K consumer processor for clock frequencies, but the i5-6600K lacks Hyper Threading and uses HD Graphics 530 and has a 6MB cache while the Xeon comes in at 8MB. This Xeon part uses Intel HD Graphics P530 and also supports ECC unbuffered memory, vPro Technology, and Trusted Execution Technology compared to the consumer Skylake CPUs. I picked up the Xeon E3 1245 v5 for about $300 USD and found it to be the best deal of the Skylake Xeons for a model that also has integrated graphics support; if you don't care about the integrated graphics, the Xeon E3 1240 v5 goes for a bit less at $290~299.

While with some past generations of Intel hardware it was possible to use a Xeon CPU of the same socket with the consumer motherboards/chipsets, sadly this is not the case with Skylake. For using the LGA-1151 Xeons, you need currently an Intel C232 or C236 motherboard. The selection of motherboards out right now doesn't appear to be the best, but there are more Skylake Xeon boards on the way -- in the next few weeks, in fact, will be an MSI board review with another Skylake Xeon. The board I went with for today's build was a Supermicro X11SAE-M. There are many Supermicro LGA-1151 motherboards available and while this one was micro-ATX, it has HDMI, DVI, and DisplayPort support -- many of the server/workstation motherboards are still sticking to just a VGA port!

The Supermicro X11SAE-M uses the C236 chipset and has four DDR4-2133MHz slots, dual Gigabit Ethernet, eight Serial ATA 3.0 ports, six USB 3.0 ports, two USB 3.1 ports, one PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot, and one PCI Express 3.0 x4 slot. It has basically everything I needed for the system, again was nice with the DP/HDMI/DVI outputs, and cost just about $200 USD making it one of the cheapest LGA-1151 workstation motherboards.

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