CPU upgrade for NAS Killer 4, E3-1270v2 or E3-1280v2 or E3-1290v2?

Hello, thanks for putting this guide together. I actually built one more than five years ago, prices are a lot lower now! So I’m looking to upgrade my CPU and am looking for advice on choosing the best model.

The Intel Xeon E3-1230 v2 seems to be the best price/passmark value, and is the CPU I have currently. I already maxed out the RAM (32 GB of 1600 MHz DDR3) but I’m looking to get some more mileage out of the CPU upgrades, if it makes sense. The E3-1230 v2 seems to be a solid choice (3.70 GHz max, 3.30 GHz base, 69 W TDP, 1950 passmark), but if I want to max out the CPU, what would be the best?

I am considering an E3-1290 v2. This is the top-of-the-line on the E3-1200 series, clocking in at 4.10 GHz max, 3.70 GHz base, 87 W TDP, 2154 passmark (14 passmark/$), going for about $150 on eBay. However I’m concerned about the higher TDP. My current CPU, and all the slower models, have a TDP of 69 W. I suppose the trade-off is whether the extra power consumption, higher energy cost, is worth the extra performance. Have not seen this CPU discussed here often, only could find one post mentioning it (Newbie to FreeNAS (Help is appreciated)), in the context of a future upgrade.

The next model down is the E3-1280 v2, also 4.00 GHz turbo boost but a lower 3.60 GHz base clock frequency, and lower price of $108 on eBay, as well as a lower 69 W thermal design power, and 2095 passmark (19 passmark/$). The lower TDP might be nice, but I’m not too worried about cooling issues (have a Noctua NH-D15S). Though the server will be running 24/7, maybe 69W will be more economical than 87W. This CPU has not apparently been discussed on this forum, at least that I could find, but it is my tentative top pick.

Going further down the line, the E3-1270 v2. Several NAS Killer 4 builds with this processor (https://forums.serverbuilds.net/search?q=e3-1270%20v2), we are getting into more familiar/popular territory. The reason I suspect is this is the fastest processor before the passmark/$ value drops off a cliff: 37 $/passmark (2089 passmark, only $55 on eBay). 3.90 GHz max, 3.50 GHz base frequency. Also the same 69W TDP. If I choose to upgrade, I should choose this CPU at the very least, at $55 it is a no-brainer…

The other CPUs in this lineup are either unsuitable for my build (E3-1275 v2, with integrated graphics) or slower (E3-1265L v2 — though the lower power consumption might be useful, it also has integrated graphics), except for the E3-1240v2 (3.80 GHz max, 3.40 GHz base 69W TDP, 2027 passmark, 40 passmark/$). At about $50 on eBay, the E3-1240v2 isn’t as attractive as the E3-1270v2 for $55, for only a few dollars more might as well go with the E3-1270v2.

All that said, I have narrowed down my choices to the E3-1270 v2, E3-1280 v2, or E3-1290 v2.

I use my server to run multiple VMs (6 or so, including a NAS on OpenIndiana Napp-It, various network services, media server for transcoding, and a game server). Would like the best (single-threaded) performance, the end of the line in CPU upgrades for this LGA1155 motherboard, which would point to the E3-1290 v2. But is the +100 MHz base clock really worth the 87W (vs 69W) TDP? If not, then the E3-1280 v2 would be more reasonable, as a final option. Or cut the price in half and go with the E3-1270 v2 for now? It is a better value, sure, but I’d rather do the last CPU upgrade on this board now, instead of leaving future upgrades on the table. Will the price of the E3-1280 v2 drop in proportion to the E3-1270 v2 at some point? Probably not, as the high-end of the E3 v2 family it is always going to be more expensive. This also pushes me towards the E3-1280 v2.

Are there any other caveats I’ve missed? Just wanted to get some opinions on the tradeoffs for potential CPU upgrades. Obviously I have some decisions to make but I’m leaning towards the E3-1280 v2, biting the bullet on the higher price, to have to not upgrade in the future, while maintaining the same TDP as my current processor. Thanks for reading and appreciate any advice!

For me, the price of the 1280 and 1290 don’t justify the very modest performance improvements over the 1270. So I think the best CPU reasonably is the E3-1270 v2.

You pay a real premium for the 1280 and 1290.

You can also consider the i7-3770 - technically the best CPU is the 3770k and overclock it, but there is a real premium for an motherboard that supports overcloaking.

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I went from the E3-1220v1 to the E3-1230v2 and have been very happy with it. The extra oomph is there. And the price was $35 shipped for me using an OBO.

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