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Build

WS-1: Snow-Off

by someta

52
51 Comments

Details

Date Published

Dec. 24, 2015

Date Built

Dec. 21, 2015

CPU Clock Rate

3.4GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

25.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

59.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.17GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

7.01GHz

GPU Temperature While Idle

36.0° C

GPU Temperature Under Load

75.0° C

Description

It's a fairly entry-level photography workstation. I needed a proper photo editing machine, and I really liked the S340 case. I knew I wanted to build in it.

The name is short for "Workstation One," since this is my first proper workstation. It may be black and white, but there's already too many builds out there named "snow (something)," so I tried to be less traditional. And failed. Even with the name, I can still 'snow' off my build on PCPartPicker (if we're going to go with the snow theme puns)...


TL;DR: I like the look. Fast. Fairly easy to put together (minus a few sections). Now running Windows and Linux on several SSDs.


ANOTHER EDIT: I got fed up with how loud, scratch prone, and poorly thought out the S340 was (having to remove the PSU to get at the drives, the SSD mounts needing flat SATA power cables, poor airflow). I swapped the case for the Fractal Design Define R5 and haven't looked back. This is cliche, but I actually did have to check if the fans were spinning when I booted it up. The drive bays are easy to access, there's actually room to get the motherboard in place... It's amazing. My only problem is that one of the rubber grommets in the cutouts on the top of the motherboard tray came out when I was trying to (carefully) push the CPU power cable through. I tried to put it back, but I gave up since it wasn't causing any issues and the case has a solid side panel.

The laptop I pulled the BX200 drive out of was far to slow without it (barely usable), so I put it back in the laptop. That means I'm down 240 gigs, so I put the WD Blue back in for the Linux /home, but that was too noisy, so I'm down to a 750 gig for Windows and a 250 gig for Linux. Speaking of which, I elementary OS got really glitchy with the video card, so I swapped to Arch Linux. Two things to note here: use the NVIDIA drivers, not the open source ones, because enabling kernel mode setting will stop any video output, and install in BIOS mode if possible. I had no luck with the bootloader in UEFI. Luckily my motherboard supports legacy BIOS mode, so I was still able to install GRUB in BIOS mode.

I swear the next time I do a major upgrade, I'll repost it like everyone else does. This post is getting way too cluttered.


EDIT: Over the past nearly-a-year, it's gone through several revisions. The OS has changed, the drives have changed... Okay, that's not that many things, but it's faster and prettier now that I'm putting elementary OS on an SSD. Speaking of which, the two operating systems are booting off entirely different drives, and I'm using the BIOS to change OS. This should prevent Windows from messing with Linux, although I've noticed that the time in Windows is advanced 5 hours after it was running elementary OS, so I need to figure that out. Hate on it all you like, but I love Linux for its freedom; it's as simple as you want it to be!


While it's not intended or designed for gaming, I have a consumer/gaming video card in it because the Photoshop performance is the same or better as a workstation card, and it's cheaper. Which brings us to Exhibit Two: the parts were chosen mostly on a price/performance ratio, although some parts were swapped and added to make the build look a bit nicer. I know there's a ton of black and white builds out there, but I like it.


Future upgrades: SSD, another kit of RAM (same stuff, but the black heat spreaders), RAID 1 hard drives. Maybe another 970 if I end up using programs that can utilize a second GPU (Photoshop can't). LED lights or fans. If I need the cooling I'll go with the fans, but it's running fairly cool already.

EDIT:

Future upgrades: SSD

Oh, this has been done alright (as if it'll ever be done -- I'm going to keep adding these things when I run out of space). Nearly one and a quarter terabytes of SSDs, split between Windows (the 750 gig), and GNU/Linux (elementary OS right now, soon to be installed on one SSD and the home partition on the other).


PARTS:

CPU (Xeon E3 1231 V3): This one was easy. Sort of. I needed as many threads as I could get, and I really wanted to go with the X99 platform using the i7 5820K, but I planned it out and it was just too much, what with the water cooling the case necessitated and the more expensive RAM and motherboard... I was then going to go with Skylake because of the DDR4 RAM, which would mean I wouldn't have to buy different RAM if I went X99 later. I scrapped that plan after I was informed of RAM compatibility issues with Skylake, since stability is a priority here. I ended up with the choice of an i7 or a Xeon, as I originally set out to build with. I chose the Xeon. For my purposes, it's basically an i7 4770 (without the integrated GPU) for the price of an i5.


CPU Cooler (CRYORIG H7): I could have gotten a Hyper 212 Evo cheaper, but this matches the theme better, and apparently performs better too. Not super easy to install. Took me a long time to get the mounting bar in the right position, then I had to hold it with one hand and screw it into place.

EDIT Ran Prime95 until the temperatures stabilized, hit 67 degrees Celsius on two cores. Combined with the airflow in the Define R5 case (see other edits), the CPU cooler does a pretty adequate job.


Motherboard (MSI Z97S SLI Krait Edition): I had the choice of going with a black and silver board, or a black and white board with a BIOS I'm already familiar with (from my other build). I went with the familiar black and white board (and it was cheaper too). Apparently did not come with one of the little adapters for the case front panel connections, like my other MSI motherboard did, even though the manual mentioned using it. The manual was detailed enough to figure it out, though.


RAM (Kingston HyperX Fury White): The only kit of RAM I could find that matched the specs I needed. 1600MHz, because that's what Xeons support, 16GBs because I needed plenty for Photoshop and I only exceeded 8GBs rarely, and two 8GB DIMMs because I wanted room to upgrade (and I like it better with two DIMMs).


Video Card (EVGA GTX 970 4GB SC ACX 2.0): I wanted as many CUDA cores as I could get at a reasonable price, and this was the cheapest decent 970 I could get at the time. Next time I would probably sacrifice some performance and get a 950, since it would be much cheaper.


Case (NZXT S340 White): I wanted this case as soon as I saw it. The white color matches the theme. It's a great looking case, but the drive bays consist of a metal bracket in the bottom that requires you to take off the front panel to screw a drive in. That, and the cable management basically consists of "stuff everything under the PSU shroud" (although that's at least partially because the cables were so long due to the extensions). Having the thumbscrews for the expansion brackets on the outside is really nice...

EDIT: The case also tended toward the loud side, to the extent that I bought a Fractal Design Define R5 when I caught it on sale. I got fed up with the S340's hard drive drive mounting and SSD mounting. The R5's hard drive and SSD mounting is far superior. On another note, the S340 is a scratch magnet. Seems like anything can scratch the plastic window, including the sleeved cables (although this was only noticeable if you managed to catch the light on the window in just the right way).


PSU (EVGA 650 G2): Efficient, fully modular and highly rated. It also has enough overhead and cables for a SLI setup. It was just $10 more than the 550W version, and I figured I might as well spend the extra $10 for more headroom, allowing me to add on without needing to upgrade the PSU.


OS (Windows 8.1 OEM): Hate on it all you like. It's fast, it's supported longer than 7, it's cheaper than 7, and it's fairly easy to get the hang of, especially once you add an application to restore the start menu.

EDIT: I took the free upgrade to Windows 10 (only for the longer updates/support). It's fast enough, although it's annoying sometimes (particularly with settings -- do some Googling), but most of the time I'm going to be using elementary OS GNU/Linux.


Cable Extensions (Silverstone): A bit spendy for a "budget(ish)" build, but they look nice (although they come a little tangled and folded).

I never got cable combs, so I took some black hook-and-loop wraps to hold the cables together, and it looks decent enough.


BUILD NOTES:

It took me a couple hours, but quite a portion of that was stuffing cables and trying to get them to lie flat, and another good chunk was installing the CPU cooler.

I routed the cable extensions and the PSU cables after installing bracket to the PSU, but then the cables got in the way of installing the motherboard (since there's very little clearance in the case). I worked it out though.

Overall, the build was actually pretty uneventful. The only things that were difficult were installing the motherboard, CPU cooler, front panel audio connections, and the cable management.

Part Reviews

CPU

It's fast and comparatively cheap. Runs cool under a good cooler.

CPU Cooler

Looks great, cools well, mounting could be easier. I had trouble getting the mounting bar on the bottom of the cooler positioned correctly (although I do like how it comes pre-assembled)

Thermal Compound

Keeps my CPU running cool. Probably better than most bundled stuff. Enough for plenty of applications. Not much else to say.

Motherboard

Seems solid so far. Nice looking, BIOS is easy to use. Not many fan headers, but it's sort of a budget board.

Memory

Stable, looks good. Not much to say.

Storage

Very fast. Great boot drive, but I wish I have gone with the SATA version instead. It's a pain to remove the M.2 SSD in order to install other operating systems on other disks (which is something I do, but not many other people do).

Storage

This is my Windows drive, and it's massive. Just under 700 gigabytes in Windows, plenty big enough to store games, recordings, and photos of my computer. So far, it's very fast.

Video Card

Fast, looks good, runs high 70s after a year(ish). Not the best cooled card ever.

Case

This case is amazing. Turn the fans down to low and it's virtually silent in my setup (all SSDs), and it still keeps everything cool to boot. It won't muffle a super loud hard drive much, but I haven't seen a case that can.

Power Supply

Highly rated, stable, provides plenty of power. Fully modular. Good PSU so far.

Operating System

It's Windows. The updates are annoying and I can't seem to fully disable Cortana in my fresh install like I did before. If I could run everything in Linux I would, but I can't.

Monitor

This is gorgeous. Lots of screen space, crisp text, beautiful colors... Well worth the money if you can afford it.

Mouse

Not bad at all. The side buttons are nice, but good luck hitting the ones on the other side of the mouse from your thumb. It's just too awkward for me to try to hit the buttons with my little finger.

Comments Sorted by:

someta submitter 4 Builds 4 points 32 months ago

Wow, thanks for all the nice comments! I'll keep working on the cables to try and make them a little cleaner, and I might re-wire the fans so they run off the motherboard to make things a little quieter...

JafferAli 1 Build 2 points 32 months ago

For a second I thought you said $340 dollar case (in an entry level build)..

and I really liked the S340 case

someta submitter 4 Builds 1 point 32 months ago

Yeah, that happens all the time with this case... I'd like to find a better way to phrase it so it doesn't sound like that....

Caleb_Hur 2 points 25 months ago

Nice Build! I am actually looking forward to building my own black & white themed PC using the Xeon chip and probably the new MSI Armor 1070. Also, do you think the Phanteks PH-TC12LS will be enough for the CPU?

someta submitter 4 Builds 1 point 25 months ago

The CPU runs pretty cool with my current cooler, but it will run hotter under a smaller cooler like the Phanteks.

As for the GPU, the 1070 is very fast and MSI makes good stuff. I had a MSI R9 280X TwinFrozr IV card in my previous rig and it never hit 70 under heavy gaming (the 280X was known to run hot). I can't speak to the Armor edition, but I would highly suggest using the TwinFrozr version of the card (you can either paint the thing or add a little red to your build so it matches).

Did you choose the Phanteks because you're planning on going mITX or mATX? If so you may need to reconsider, because the 1070s can get large and may not fit. Also, if you decide to use a Skylake Xeon as opposed to a Devil's Canyon/Haswell Refresh CPU, the Skylakes need a workstation chipset. The DC/HRs do not.

Once you have some idea of a parts list, feel free to send it my way (post it in the comments)! I love looking at parts lists, and if you want any advice I may be able to help.

EDIT: Oh, and if you're considering cable extensions vs replacements, get a fully modular PSU (like an EVGA G2 series) and replace the cables with colored sleeved ones. You can sometimes get them from the manufacturer (I think EVGA sells them) or a third party. Cable extensions can be a hassle.

Sorry for the wall o' text :/

Caleb_Hur 1 point 25 months ago

Thanks! As for the power supply, is there any difference between the G2 series and the SuperNova Nex? Also as I was looking at the cooler I thought it would be a better idea to go for either the H7 or the H5.

Also I am not sure about the CPU as I have a limited budget at about 1200 and going for Skylake e3 chips require rather expensive motherboards and going for the skylake i series is, in my opinion, not worth it as the xeon 1231 v3 performs better than it in most benchmarks and it's basically rebranded haswell i7 chips. I just wish they made it so you could use Skylake Xeon CPU's on normal consumer motherboards.

As for the GPU, I decided on the Armor version as it's about $30 cheaper than the Twinfrozr version but since I will be building around November since my friend is coming from US at then. I guess those prices will drop as time goes and I'll see then.

EDIT: http://pcpartpicker.com/list/Q6LBbj this is what I have at the moment basically just replacing the gpu.

someta submitter 4 Builds 1 point 25 months ago

The G2 should be a better PSU for marginally more, and if you ever want to SLI you'll want 650 watts. It's $15 more than the 550 watt version, but it'll save you $90 if you ever SLI because you won't have to replace the PSU. Well worth it.

I would stick with the TwinFrozr cooler on the GAMING X or the G1 cooler on the Gigabyte. Yeah, it doesn't match the color scheme, but the G1 only has red on the top of the cooler (which of course is facing the bottom of the case), so you probably wouldn't notice it.

What will you be using the build for? If it's just for gaming you can save money and get an i5. You really don't need 8 threads for gaming right now (although maybe in the future). I got the Xeon for workstation use (mainly photo editing). If it's for medium workstation use (some photo editing and whatnot), stick with the Xeon. If it's for rendering, then possibly go with a 5820K for CPU heavy tasks and a GTX 1060 if they release on time or a Quadro/FirePro if your tasks work better off a workstation card. The 1060 is supposed to perform admirably at 1080p/60Hz (and maybe even higher refresh rates, we'll have to see). It really boils down to your application's hardware utilization, which may require some digging.

Feel free to ask me for any other build suggestions, I like helping!


Here's a list with the different GPU and PSU:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

Type Item Price
CPU Intel Xeon E3-1231 V3 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor $239.99 @ SuperBiiz
CPU Cooler CRYORIG H7 49.0 CFM CPU Cooler $34.99 @ Amazon
Motherboard MSI Z97S SLI Krait Edition ATX LGA1150 Motherboard $114.99 @ SuperBiiz
Memory Kingston HyperX Fury White 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory $60.99 @ Amazon
Storage Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive $47.49 @ OutletPC
Video Card Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1070 8GB G1 Gaming Video Card $419.99 @ SuperBiiz
Case NZXT S340 (White) ATX Mid Tower Case $64.99 @ Directron
Power Supply EVGA SuperNOVA G2 650W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply $87.98 @ Newegg
Operating System Microsoft Windows 10 Home Full - USB 32/64-bit $108.99 @ SuperBiiz
Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts
Total (before mail-in rebates) $1190.40
Mail-in rebates -$10.00
Total $1180.40
Generated by PCPartPicker 2016-07-15 21:05 EDT-0400
Caleb_Hur 1 point 25 months ago

The thing is, I want to be able to play games and be able to have light video editing and some photoshop and lightroom and I thought that the xeon might be a better choice for that. Also since I am going into AP CS 50 next year I wanted something that could take it. But since they are nothing too intensive I guess something like 6500 might work out.

One question I have is thermals, since where I live (Egypt) gets crazy hot during summer (Without airconditioning it gets up to 45 C in house) and although I do have airconditioning in my room, it's still always around 30 C. So do you think the H7 and the g1 will be cool enough for it? Or do you think I'll be needing more case fans and other stuff for it?

Anyways I might just end up getting a half decent laptop and use it for a few years until college to save up money and build my personal rig then.

someta submitter 4 Builds 1 point 25 months ago

Saving up a little more and building something like this might be your best bet if you're going to build a PC. It exceeds budget, but not by too too much. You can halve the RAM to one 8 gig DIMM to save money. I've only used close to 8 running multiple virtual machines, not using Photoshop/Lightroom, but your mileage may vary based on what you're using it for (massive images use more RAM). Your other option would be to replace the video card with something like a GTX 1060 when they are released (6GB VRAM, rumored to be as powerful as a 980 at $250) or RX 480 if you don't want to wait (roughly R9 390 performance, a little better than a GTX 970, about the same price for 8 gigs of VRAM once stocks stabilize). The NVidia cards will generally fun cooler, although 3rd party AMD cards can run cooler than sotck NVidia cards. These are generalizations, in the sense that they hold up overall for most games. Again, your millage will vary as video card performance is very dependent on what games you play, and other factors like how many screens you use.

The desktop will outperform a laptop (although it you're using it for school a laptop might be the best option since you can carry it around). The other perk to waiting is that hardware is just going to get more powerful at certain price point, so you can cram more power into a rig for less money.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

Type Item Price
CPU Intel Xeon E3-1231 V3 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor $239.99 @ SuperBiiz
CPU Cooler Phanteks PH-TC14PE_BK 78.1 CFM CPU Cooler $64.99 @ Newegg
Motherboard MSI Z97S SLI Krait Edition ATX LGA1150 Motherboard $114.99 @ SuperBiiz
Memory Kingston HyperX Fury White 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory $60.99 @ Amazon
Storage Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive $47.49 @ OutletPC
Video Card Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1070 8GB G1 Gaming Video Card $419.99 @ SuperBiiz
Case NZXT H440 (Glossy White/Black) ATX Mid Tower Case $99.99 @ Newegg
Power Supply EVGA SuperNOVA G2 650W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply $89.99 @ Amazon
Operating System Microsoft Windows 10 Home Full - USB 32/64-bit $108.99 @ SuperBiiz
Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts
Total (before mail-in rebates) $1267.41
Mail-in rebates -$20.00
Total $1247.41
Generated by PCPartPicker 2016-07-16 10:04 EDT-0400
theNeybor 1 point 32 months ago

Beautiful!

someta submitter 4 Builds 1 point 32 months ago

Thank you!!!

mb67 5 Builds 1 point 32 months ago

That is a nice looking build!

someta submitter 4 Builds 1 point 32 months ago

That's what I was going for! I'm glad you like it!

Mackilroy 1 Build 1 point 32 months ago

Nice build! I like the color scheme. I didn't have much trouble installing my H7, did you attach it before or after mounting the motherboard to the case?

someta submitter 4 Builds 1 point 32 months ago

I figured I'd try installing the H7 after the motherboard went in the case, just because of how much trouble I had installing my 212 Evo on my other motherboard outside the case... Probably not the smartest idea, but it works really well now.

Mackilroy 1 Build 2 points 32 months ago

As long as it works, right? I installed it outside the case, the last time I'd built a system I put on the cooler while the motherboard was inside and it was hard fro me.

someta submitter 4 Builds 2 points 32 months ago

Yep, as long as it works! I've had trouble installing coolers both ways now, so I guess the solution is to skip the CPU cooler entirely!

No, JK, don't do that! LOL...

Mackilroy 1 Build 2 points 32 months ago

Where we're going we don't need CPU coolers!

someta submitter 4 Builds 1 point 32 months ago

LOL

HTTPRO 3 Builds 1 point 32 months ago

Beautiful build! I love Cryorig Coolers hopefully they come to Canada soon.

someta submitter 4 Builds 1 point 32 months ago

I got my H7 from Newegg... Does Newegg have a Canadian page too? Or do you just get most of your parts from NCIX?

BillyBroken 1 point 32 months ago

We've seen a lot of S340 build recently but this one is really clean man, nicely done. +1

someta submitter 4 Builds 1 point 32 months ago

Thanks! I'm going to keep working on the cable extensions to try to get them to line up better (maybe cable combs?), but I'm glad you like it!

BillyBroken 1 point 32 months ago

Yeah the combs on the current featured build (Arctic Beast) look good, really help imo...it is still a beauty as is though.

someta submitter 4 Builds 1 point 32 months ago

Why, thank you! I was admiring Arctic Beast myself. It's a very cool build, very clean looking. It's really well done! I kind of wish my system was that well done...

Alfred0 2 Builds 1 point 32 months ago

I absolutely LOVE this build, looks so clean. Well done!. That CPU performs like an i7 im i right?

someta submitter 4 Builds 1 point 32 months ago

Thank you!

Yes, the CPU performs similarly to an i7, but has no integrated GPU and supports ECC memory (although that's not any use to me).

tokwator 1 point 32 months ago

Very awesome build! I plan to make a white themed build also, but I'am having trouble finding white-sleeved modular cables like what you have. I was just wondering, where did you get them? Thanks :) -BJMT

someta submitter 4 Builds 1 point 32 months ago

Thanks you! I got the extension cables off Amazon... Just search "silverstone sleeved cables" in Amazon and they'll come up. Just be warned, the Silverstone cables do end up with little threads coming off them, kind of like strands of hair. It's not noticeable until you look really close, though.

tokwator 1 point 32 months ago

Thank you very much! I'm really new to these kinds of things and I was also wondering, what specific cables do I need for my fully modular power supply? Thank you again :) -BJMT

dagreendooky 1 point 32 months ago

Just nitpicking here; but you can remove the protective transparent sticker on your GTX 970 logo. Or is that what you meant by the stickers not being attached too well?

Also, out of curiosity, do the Silverstone cables "replace" your EVGA PSU cables, or do you have to attach them to the EVGA PSU cables as extensions?

someta submitter 4 Builds 1 point 32 months ago

That is indeed what I meant by stickers not being attached well. It is the logo, and it has a bubble in it :(. I managed to smooth it out a little, so it's better now, but I'm still not thrilled with that little detail. Sorry.

And no, the Silverstone cables don't replace the original PSU cables. They simply attach onto the ends of the original cables, which makes cable management a tad bit difficult because the cables are so long.

callmedeaja 1 point 32 months ago

Has the side panel gotten scratched yet?

someta submitter 4 Builds 1 point 32 months ago

LOL, not really. There's little marks from the cable extensions brushing the window, but you can't really see it.

kyzel2304 1 Build 1 point 31 months ago

Beautiful build +1. Very clean and the name matches the theme. I have a question, do you know if the fan on the h7 can be replaced with other pwm fans, I am thinking of changing mine into something of an orange fan to match my build.

someta submitter 4 Builds 1 point 31 months ago

Thank you!

I have no idea if the fan can be changed out... I supposed the fan clips could fit another fan with the same dimensions, but you would have to do some research on that...

someta submitter 4 Builds 1 point 31 months ago

You also have a very cool build! I've been thinking about cable combs, but I have cleaned up the cables a bit and I'm not sure if I want to spend the money on them...

Bearded_Dad15 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

I see your build and it is indeed very similar to mine. I love it. I just love that S340 case! Beautiful.

someta submitter 4 Builds 1 point 23 months ago

Thank you!

I'm actually mulling over replacing the case with an Inwin 303 because they're beautiful cases... That and maybe add a second SSD for Linux and some RGB lighting...

Bearded_Dad15 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

I was not familiar with that case. I just Googled it. Sexy!! Take a look at the Corsair 400C. You may like that as well. I was thinking about that case, but I didn't want to spend that much on a it.

someta submitter 4 Builds 1 point 23 months ago

and I just Googled the 400C... That is a nice looking case!

Not actually sure what I'm going to do with the build; I might basically rebuild the whole thing with an old dual socket LGA 1366 board and dual Xeons I have from a server.