Description

(First of all: this build is more costly than a build optimized for cost vs the performance necessary to run the HTC Vive. SteamVR can run perfectly with a i5, 8GB of DDR3 ram, one inexpensive HDD, and just 350W PSU. Only the GPU is at the minimum recommended spec)

This VR-ready SFF PC is quiet.

The main OS is Linux kernel 4.4 with GNOME desktop running on the integrated GPU.

A Windows Virtual Machine with GPU passthrough ( GPU pass-through with qemu / KVM ).

The VM passes the SteamVR VR-Ready test with a mark similar to the native, bare-metal speed of this system.

The VM is used both for demanding gaming, and for asset creation with GPU accelerated sw ( without the privacy problems associated with Windows ).

The system runs perfectly the HTC Vive, but only in Windows 7 (dual-boot of the main Linux OS).

The CPU is water cooled.

The GPU is VR-Ready: at full load, the GPU makes a very audible noise but with pleasant sound characteristics.

The positive pressure of the case causes no dust accumulation.

The PSU is Corsair SFX 600W (it is new so not yet selectable in pcpartpicker).

Temperatures are OK: with Linux running the Unigine Heaven benchmark for DX11 in extreme on the Intel GPU, and, at the same time, the Windows VM running the Heaven DX11 benchmark on the other GPU at extreme, for more than one hour, temperatures never go above 80 C.

Future upgrades:

I will upgrade the GPU as soon as AMD releases its 14nm GPUs. I will also add water cooling to the GPU because the SG13 can fit two AIO radiators with one fan. That is why I chose the H75 over the H80i AIO (27 mm vs 38 mm radiator thickness).


(Minor) Problems encountered: (just so you are warned)

So far, I was not able yet to passthrough the HTC Vive to the VM (if you know how to do it, please contact me).

The motherboard does not allow to passthrough an entire USB 3 controller ( Vt-D / IOMMU / Vfio ). I tried both with ASMedia USB 3.1 controller, and with the Z170 chipset.

The HTC Vive contains about 10 USB 2.0 elements, and 2 couples of them have the same product / vendor IDs. So, until now, I was not able yet to pass-through each and all USB connections from the Linux host to the Windows guest.

The motherboard cannot run the DDR4 RAM at 3200:

2X16GB G.Skill F4-3200C14Q-64GVK

...runs only at DDR3 speed.

The AsRock web-site listed the above model of DDR4 among those able to run at full speed but, with UEFI updated at the latest version 2.1, turning on XMP causes the system to not boot. I returned the RAM and bought another, which also could not boot in XMP:

http://www.asrock.com/mb/Intel/Fatal1ty%20Z170%20Gaming-ITXac/index.us.asp?cat=Memory

Parts purchased in April 2016.

Comments

  • 44 months ago
  • 3 points

This is the bash script I am using to start my QEMU virtual machine inside Lubuntu 15.10. I recently modified it to work with the HTC Vive by passing through the entire Intel USB hub that was in it's own IOMMU on my motherboard (Asus Z170 Deluxe) -- this is the pci_0000_00_14_0 device that gets attached by vfio-pci in my script.

Initially I had tried to pass through all the HTC usb devices using the same -usb -usbdevice commands I use for my keyboard and mouse (which are connected to an ASMedia USB controller) but as you mentioned that had problems. This has been working well for me. You can ignore the other specific tweaks I have for audio, USB to ethernet, etc.

http://pastebin.com/Q3HuTJpb

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

Computer looks awesome. Sad to hear that you are having so many issues.

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

@texasmayne : Thank you! I am happy overall with the computer:the issues are minor. I mentioned them to warn other people. I like the motherboard because it allows GPU pass-through, which is a big advantage for an ITX. The low speed of the DDR4 is not ideal but I am confident that the issue will be solved by a future UEFI update: DDR4 and XMP are still quite new. Trying to pass-through the HTC Vive from Linux is difficult to do, so I am not disappointed for the obstacles. Overall, I am happy with the built. I would just suggest people to buy DDR3 for now, if it costs much less than DDR4.

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

You do realized that a motherboard that supports DDR4 does not support DDR3 because they have different key slots (incompatible)? You shouldn't be suggesting people to buy DDR3 because it won't fit.

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

So maybe the issue with ram is the VM, You know you can go into the windows 10 settings and disable the privacy issues

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

Windows 10 privacy cannot be turned off : you can only turn off soem portions of . You would be tracked for the rest of your life if you run Windows 10 on the bare metal. Windows 10 monitors what SW you have installed and where it comes from. In Windows 10, you cannot choose which updates to install and which to skip. You also have much more risk of viruses/hackers/NSA: better keeping Windows confined inside a box. No, the issue with the RAM is not the VM: I also have got WIndows 7 installed in dual boot. The issue with the RAM in XMP / DDR4 mode arises as soon as the PC is turned on, before loading the operating system. It is most likely a temporary bug: I am confident that AsRock will fix it in an update. I have go the PC for about a month and I have already received 3 UEFI updates.

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

There was a program made to disable privacy "features" that cannot be disabled via windows 10 settings: https://www.safer-networking.org/spybot-anti-beacon/

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

How about the PSU, I heard it's noisy or it has coil whine.

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

@HTTPRO: good question! The part list is wrong! In the end I purchased the Corsair SFX 600, not the Silverstone one precisely because of the noise of the Silverstone PSU. The Corsair one does not come with the ATX-to-SFX adapter to mount it on the SG13: you have to buy it from Silverstone. I bought a largely over-sized 600W PSU to minimize noise: the reviews were saying that the fan would not turn on when the consumption is as low as that of a SkyLake + 1 GPU. I have to say that the reviews were not right: even with low consumption, the fan of the PSU is on. Its noise is not beautiful but its volume is so low, that it is OK overall. My impression is that the OCrsair SFX 600W PSU is better than the Silverstone one, but you have to add the cost of the adapter.

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

thanks for the thorough reply and review of the PSU, I was looking to buy the SF600 aswell since it has the hybrid fan mode. I was wondering if the SF600 is loudest thing in your rig or if its something else because I'm building around a Node 202 case so I wanna limit the noise to the fullest.

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

I was looking at the Node 202, too. For me, I had 2 priorities: a "quiet" system but also one that can be upgraded to become very powerful. I did not choose the Node 202 because it cannot fit water cooling, and it cannot fit a powerful cooler, so you would end up with CPU throttling, or noise, or a system which is not powerful enough for VR. The SG13 can fit two AIO water coolers: one for the CPU and one for the GPU (plus one this fan to cool both). However the Node 202 of course is perfect for use cases where power is not a priority, of course! Yes, when the GPU is not under heavy load, the PSU is the biggest noise. It is "smooth" and barely audible and, from the reviews, the Corsair SFX 600W is less noisy than the Silverstone SFX-L and the Silverstone SFX 600. When under load, the GPU is quite noisy, but a nice sounding "wind" noise. But i plan to get an AIO for the GPU, as I said, so that noise would go. If you want a very powerful system with no noise, consider the SG13 or the NCASE-M1, which also can fit two radiators. The M1 can fit thicker radiators and two fans instead of one, so it is a better case than the SG13 for max power&silence.

  • 44 months ago
  • 2 points

Really the only reason why I want the node 202 is because I can fit in my backpack and travel with it. Thanks for your reply again. I guess I'll get a really quiet GPU like an MSI and a quiet CPU cooler aswell.

  • 44 months ago
  • 2 points

The Node 202 is a very nice choice for your purpose. I traveled with my PC in the backpack for a flight within Europe and the Airlines were very fine with it. However, the Node 202 should be lighter than my pc, so even better. I am cosidering getting the Dan in Decemebr 2016 for a very small and still quite powerful customer build: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/33753221/dan-cases-a4-sfx-the-worlds-smallest-gaming-tower

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

Why get the 6700k when you could've saved money and get a 980ti or something? 970 is probably not enough for smooth vr.

  • 44 months ago
  • 2 points

@EngageDynamo Good question! To keep the cost of VR low, all the games of the HTC Vive are optimized to run on the 970, so performance is not an issue. The reason for the 970 is that I could not wait for the 14nm GPU as the Vive was arriving at the beginning of April. It is a few months now that nobody should buy a new GPU: we should all be waiting for the 14nm and 16nm GPUs coming very soon. My plan is to buy a 14nm GPU from AMD as soon as it will be available but I needed something to play VR now. So I took the cheapest solution, jut to wait some months until the real GPU will arrive. AMD is much better than NVIDIA for GPU pass-through (and for open source in general) by the way. So the i7 6700K is an overkill in the short term but imagine it coupled with a super 14nm GPU that will be available in a matter of a few months. And also consider that I like running several Virtual Machines at the same time in my PC.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Hi Egavi!

Now that AMD revealed RX 480, what do you make of it?

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

Just ordered the same mobo and memory :(

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

Well done! It is a great mobo! No worries about the memory: unless you can find DDR3 at a much lower price, but I saw that the price was similar to the DDR4, so no point in buying a lower quality RAM.

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

I don't understand why it wouldn't be able to achieve DDR4 speeds. What are the speed differences between DDR3 and DDR4? Also, how is the m.2 ssd treating you?

Sexy build btw :) I'm digging the white

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

Ha, ha, thanks :) Skylake DDR4 systems can'r run at DDR4 speeds unless you remember to explicitly enable XMP in the UEFI. And even then, very few DDR4 modules are compatible/tested to work with with a given motherboard ( and especially ITX mobos have most constraints ). For example, my AsRock ITX has got a list of compatible modules that can achieve DDR4 speeds in it. Before buying DDR4, always check the DDR4 compatibility list of your mobo. For example, mine is: http://www.asrock.com/mb/Intel/Fatal1ty%20Z170%20Gaming-ITXac/index.us.asp?cat=Memory If you want 32GB on my mobo, the maximum speed is only 3200. When, in a SkyLake PC, XMP is not enabled, high quality DDR4 can only run at the maximum DDR3 speed : 2133.

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

The M2 is fantastic! SATA is too limited for SDDs. M2 is very compatible with this board, and also with Linux and with Windows. M2 works great and is tiny!

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

This build has all the keywords I was looking for: linux, vr, amd and portable. Thank you so much for sharing this!

Just a quick question: how are you using vr in linux or is it straight to that windows vm?

  • 44 months ago
  • 0 points

hope vr experience is worth the cash you paid for it. you should sell the 970 and buy 1080

  • 44 months ago
  • 2 points

@Fsylar: I am super happy with the HTC Vive: super, super happy. For me, it is worth every penny. I believe that it is much better than the Oculus because of the superior tracking for the HMD and the availability of super-precise hand-controllers that feel like holding pistols, wands, and swords (not to mention the console-like attitude of Oculus, and their terms and conditions, etc.). Having said all that, my advice to anyone considering buying VR is to try it first: this generation is still "uncomfortable" to wear, so you need to be an enthusiast or a developer to like the first generation of consumer VR. I will get the equivalent of the 1080 as soon as AMD will release it, but such power is not necessary: the HTC Vive titles run perfectly with the 970.

[comment deleted]