Black Friday 2018 got me back in to computer building after a 7 year hiatus.
Until that day, I had been using a machine that I built in 2013 which comprised a Phenom II X6 1045T, and a Radeon HD 7770 card. For what I played, this system was honestly more than capable and up to the task.
Walking in to Microcenter after standing in a frozen line for an hour with a couple of good PC buddies, I wanted to look at a few flash drives and then just head home. Plans changed when we walked past the CPU case and they had the first generation 16-core 32-thread AMD Ryzen Threadripper marked on a massive sale from $700 down to $460. Feeling flush with cash, I asked the rep to pull one from the case for me, I wanted a CPU the size of a smart phone badly, and today was quickly shaping up to be that day. Processor earmarked successfully, I walked down the once ripe X399 motherboard section and quickly selected an AsRock board with the lowest sticker price. Our friendly Microcenter rep strongly cautioned me to not buy that board as they had many returns and RMAs. I placed the box back on the shelf and asked for their recommendation, to which he pulled the most expensive board in the store, a Gigabyte Aorus Extreme X399 board. At this point in the day, already having spent $460 on a processor, what was another $450 on a motherboard. Quickly swinging by the RAM case to pick up some DDR4 (my old Phenom II rig was DDR3, so not compatible), I also grabbed a 256GB M.2 to use as a boot drive for the fast new machine.
Upon returning home, I started gutting the vintage Antec Three Hundred chassis of its old components. E-ATX motherboards are a difficult squeeze in most cases, but this antec had support for it. No cable management is possible in a chassis this old, so the scene was not pretty. Initially, I had no TR4 compatible cooler, so I ziptied a CoolerMaster Hyper 212 EVO on to the TR's IHS just to boot it up and mess around a bit.
Threadrippers are notoriously picky about ram, even most samsung B die is barely able to hit XMP on these computers - the kits I picked up initially were made by a company called Neo Forza, running on SK Hynix chips, 3200 speed rating, C16 latency. Amazingly, they held 3733MT/s at CL18 or 3600 at CL16. I ran this ram until I accidentally broke an SMD off one of the DIMMs installing new heat spreaders. At that time, I swapped to B die Trident Z Neo RGB which can handle 3600CL16 but not the 3733CL18 I used to run.
my Arctic TR4 air cooler arrived shortly thereafter, cooled the CPU ok at stock clocks, but overclocked, the heat soaking was getting pretty out of control, so I started looking at TR4 closed loop liquid coolers. Enermax, Coolermaster and Corsair all offered these large cold plate coolers, but the pricing was all over. About that time, I found a coolermaster TR4 cooler on ebay, 360mm radiator, RGB block, for $13 with a broken tab. Immediately, I ordered that cooler, and applied an entire tube of epoxy to the shattered metal bracket that was poorly deisgned and cast directly in to the plastic pump body.
Repairs were effective! temperatures dropped and full load at 4.2GHz all cores, temps dont exceed 71*c.
One issue with a large CLC though, the radiator had no mount location. Back to Microcenter, I found a Corsair 570X crystal series chassis which had support for 1x 360, 1x240 and 1x120mm radiator. promptly bought that chassis and migrated the system to its current home.
For GPU, initially I ran a pair of Gigabyte Gaming X RX570 4GB cards in crossfire (it was cheap, and performed really well). Eventually, I found a $400 GTX 1080Ti for sale locally on Marketplace and installed that card. initial performance gain was massive, but the reference AERO card was loud and hot, so I ordered an NZXT Kraken G12 GPU liquid conversion bracket and a generic Asetek 120mm AIO for a total of $64. Now under liquid cooling the 1080Ti stays below 50*c under full load and the computer remains very quiet.