Dear PCPARTPICKERs, the following build was completed back in January 2016. I am uploading it a little bit later. Now the GPU is sold and the case is changed to Evolv Micro ATX. Nevertheless I thought you might want to have a look at it as it packs a ton of features into very small footprint. Enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed building it!
GPU : EVGA GTX 980 K|NGP|N
Finally a K|ngp|n in the house !!! I remember myself looking are the specs of this card a while ago when the 900 series were released and was laughing at the people willing to spend over £600 for a 980 Kingpin. Well, thing is now I have one! I won it on Ebay auction for the spectacular price of £350! The card was 2 months old however it had severe coil noise which explained the reason for putting it on an auction in first place. Anyway the card was not yet registered on EVGA's website and they agreed to do an RMA for me. EVGA turned out to be the best GPU manufacturer I have dealt with so far. I posted the noisy card to Germany and they replaced it with brand new one. Guess what - now I have a shiny new 980 KPE for the price of a reference card. How cool is that?! It is running rock solid 1460 MHz out of the box at stock settings. However, it is designed to be pushed to the limit so I flashed a custom BIOS modified by Vince Kingpin which makes the card fly. It removes the temperature and power limits completely, and allows you to push the card to the wall. Precision X allows only 1300mV on the core, however this card is designed to take 1.35-1.45V on chilled water by soldering a couple of external pots to it or up to 2V on LN2. I will see if I decide to go that extreme. At the end of the day this is one of the two GTX 980s which have reached 2100MHz at 2.1V core on LN2 alongside with KFA 980 HOF. The performance of any card depends on number of factors, however the one and only thing an end user can play with is the temperature. I benched the card at 1630MHz @ 1.3V and +900MHz memory offset stable. However in order to get there and to get the temperatures as cool as possible I equipped with my jacket, gloves, coffee and determination, opened the window and brought the ambient down to 0 Deg. C. At this time I was not prepared for handling condensation, thus I monitored the ambient temperature and made sure that it does not drop below 0. I cooled the overclocked system to 25 Deg C under heavy load with a large fan blowing cold air into the water cooled system. It was pretty chilly but rewarding experience as I was able to get 17 487 graphics score on Firestrike (15 483 system), positioning the overclocked Helvetios from the top 27% into the top 3% with similar hardware according to Futuremark database.
CPU : i7-5820K
Coming from a 4790K, the stock single threaded performance of the 5820K is quite poor. I clocked it on air up to 4.4GHz to check stability. It abuses the poor Scythe cooler so I will do further adjustments underwater. On air I dialed it down to 4.0GHz which makes it equal to a stock 4790K, with double the cash and a couple of extra PCI lanes. What I am really going to utilize the CPU is multi-threaded rendering, CAD and Electronics systems design software. There are hardly any differences between the 5820K and the 5930K apart from a couple of extra PCI lanes on the latter. Provided that I will not be able to fit more than one 980 Kingpin in that case... £100 price gap was unjustified. Under water I was able to sustain and bench 4.6GHz at 1.35v. However for reliability purposes I plan to use the system at 4.0GHz @ 1.25V which improves temps and is rock solid so I should not have any crashes in the middle of a project work.
Underwater the CPU was finally clocked to 4.7GHz stable for bench marking purposes!
MOTHERBOARD : EVGA Micro 2
This was tough. I knew I wanted X99 mainly because I need the extra cores for multi threaded applications and I still do not have the business which will justify Dual XEON insanity lol. My primary goal was to build as small system as possible keeping a decent hardware inside. The reasons to put micro ATX board inside a Mini ITX enclosure was because: 1. CPU power delivery and regulation circuit is much better on any X99 Micro board compared to AsRock mini. 2. Quad channel memory on the mATX boards. I do not see a reason to get X99 and to not take advantage of that. 3. The Asrock mini was on average 50-70 GBP more expensive compared to the micro boards, at the moment of building this system. 4. Cooling! From the very beginning my plan was to water cool the system, thus I needed a decent size VRM and chipset heat sinks, due to the small airflow in the case at idle. Unlike air coolers, which push air around the CPU, when you water cool a system you usually reduce the air flow through the RAM and VRMs at idle. The AsRock mini board has tiny sinks. I actually bought Gigabyte Gaming 5 X99M board initially. However it was not able to run my memory kits on any XMP setting above 2666MHz. Which was kind of disappointing having in mind that the board is advertised at speeds up to 3000MHz on the manufacturer's website. Anyway I managed to return it for a refund and bought the slightly more expensive EVGA Micro 2. I am extremely happy with the new board. It came extremely well packaged compared to the shady Gigabyte box. The Micro 2 is the most premium PCB I have touched in my life and my God I have touched and made a fair amount of them PCBs... The EVGA UEFI is the best GUI ever made. In my opinion it is superior to Asus ROG, MSI, Gigabyte and AsRock BIOSes in both functionality and appearance.
CASE : EVGA Hadron Mini ITX
The EVGA Hadron Air! What a tiny gorgeous little thing! I got it on a spectacular deal on Ebay for only 60 GBP, asking the seller to remove the original PSU as I was not planning to use it anyway. The reason for that was the inconvenient location, low power rating, extra noise of the server unit and non modularity of the cables. By replacing the PSU with SFX unit I was able to install 240mm rad in the bottom of the case, to sleeve all my modular cables and to get gold power rating. Given the hardware I am using I decided it will be better to have slightly more power headroom. The only inconvenience was that the case uses server form factor PSU - 1U and fitting the SFX was bit challenging.
!!!! WARNING to the potential buyers of this case that it has its issues !!!! *1. The PCB pillars (standoffs) are welded to the chassis, thus you cannot remove them (unless you grind them down). The problem with them is that they are relatively thick compared to standard brass or nylon standoffs and they literally short-circuited my motherboard. I was really surprised because this is the first time I encounter such problem. The system worked alright on the test bench but did not power up when installed into the case. It took me a couple of minutes in panic to realize what was going on. At first I thought it is because I am installing Micro ATX board inside mini ITX chassis and there are a couple of PSU supporting brackets from the stock configuration which are now covered by the larger board. However, they were not the problem, the standoffs were. I solved this by using plastic washers and plastic non conductive M3 bolts to secure the board to the chassis. This was an easy fix however it is not ideal because the motherboard is now 1.5mm higher than what it should be and as result the I/O shield does not align perfectly.
*2. If you want to use Micro ATX PCB inside this Mini ITX chassis you have to remove the HDD drive cage. This is a pain because of the cheap manufacturing of the chassis, they have used rivets instead of bolts and nuts. Everything in this chassis is riveted or welded.... You have to drill through the rivets with a dremel or a power drill and there are 14 of them holding the drive cage ;) I managed to melt and destroy a brand new steel with titanium plating drill bit...
*3. Although you will not see this when you put the side panel on, the black powder coating is not uniform. There is a lot of area on the inside which has steel gray colour.
*4. The USB 3.0 + Headphone jack module is very bulky and takes a lot of space. If you are going to use Micro ATX board just forget about it.
Overall it is a decent case IF you can find it on a deal somewhere. Had I paid 130 GBP + retail price for it, having the issues above, would have totally disappointed me.
Oh yeah, almost forgot, the card does not fit inside the Hadron case... there is a useless side panel support bracket one the left side of the chassis which I had to trim down. Even then the card was too big, so I unscrewed the mounting bracket from the GPU, inserted it into the chassis slot, and seated the card on its own. Once fitted into the PCI-E slot, the bracket can be screwed back in place. The same procedure must be repeated every time when you take the card out or put it back in... MEMORY : G.Skill Ripjaws V DDR4-3200
It would have been nice to have a 32GB (4x8GB) kit however due to budget limitations I had to go with the 16 GB one. I bought 4x4GB DIMM because they are tested and certified to work together by the manufacturer. Also they fill up all the empty sockets on the board so I will not have an obvious reason to spend MORE MONEY!
Latest addition this build is M.2 Non Volatile Memory Express drive SM951. It is being utilized as a boot drive. At this location in my case there is relatively small airflow. Thus I decided to carefully peal off the warranty label of the drive and to mount two small DIP28 IC heat sinks. They are anodized in black and cover up the green pcb of the SSD. As secondary storage I decided to go with mechanical 2.5 inch HDD. I found a relatively high performing WD Black Series 750GB on Ebay for 25 pounds and bought it straight away. At the moment all my storage devices are less than half the size of a regular 3.5 inch HDD, perfect my for my small case which now does not have any storage support after drilled off the drive cage.
PSU : Silverstone 600W SFX It is slightly on the expensive side of a 600W PSU. However it is extremely compact, gold rated and all cables are modular. My unit had little bit of coil whine initially. Now after loading it heavily a couple of times the noise has decreased. It is still there but to be honest it is nothing to worry about. The only place to mount the PSU was on the back of the front panel where the HDD case was positioned initially. I decided to not bolt it to the chassis so I taped it with about 96 cm2 velcro and this is enough to support it perfectly. It is very convenient because you can take the PSU out for 3 seconds. The device is taking air from the interior of the case and it is exhausting up through the top radiator. My system consumes 200-250W at idle thus the PSU is only 50% loaded and works at peak efficiency most of the time. The fan does not spin until you push the system with some heavy task.
As soon as I got my Kingpin card I knew I had to water cool it! This build features GPU + CPU loop and two 240 radiators fitted inside a miniITX chassis! 8-] I decided to go with flexible tubing unlike my previous builds. This system will be my mobile work/gaming station which I plan to bring with me to my laboratory. The flexible tubing is the preferable option for mobile PC as the system is unlikely to leak compared to hard acrylic tubes.
RADIATORS : I spent some time looking at various radiator options. I managed to fit 2x240 radiators in the case. One hanging from the top panel, where the stock fans of the case were and second one in the spot of the original PSU. The one in the bottom does not fit all the way to the back because I have used Micro ATX motherboard. In the front it is supported by an aluminium bracket I fabricated in the last minute while in the rear of the case the 90 Degree fittings are used as spacers. There are two 120 Phobya slim fans on the bottom of the radiator. The airflow is then exhausted from the side panel. This is not ideal because it slightly heats up the GPU block. However the benefits are that the created tribulation pushes air around the m.2 NVME SSD and it also warms me while gaming in the cold winter nights :)
PUMP : My initial plan was to use the Alphacool Eisberg Solo. It was the sensible small form factor decision which serves as a pump/block and reservoir at the same time. I measured the current draw at full speed 12V, with ampere clamps if anyone wonders it takes 470-500mA depending on the viscosity of the fluid. This is not mentioned in any website, and any specification on the internet... Thus the pump can be powered directly from a motherboard header and in fact it can be modulated using DC (NOT PWM) fan profile settings. However I was not happy with the noise/flow rate ratio thus I decided to invest in a D5 unit. The difference is enormous 1500 l/h compared to merely 120 l/h, that D5 pump can fill my bath tube! Even the smallest EK version looks quite large for this case but it pumps a lot of water and even at 100% PWM it is literally inaudible.
Thank you for looking!