Description

Vincent arose from the desire for a workstation computer for my undergraduate physics research (and eventually my graduate program as well) with the capacity for mid to higher-end gaming. Because of my research, it was imperative that my computer could run data simulation and processing on GNU Octave, IRAF, R and C (my adviser is old school and likes free programs) quickly and efficiently without overly-stressing my build.

Some of these parts I purchased used off Craigslist (thanks jrjohnson!) and Amazon, which helped reduce the overall cost of the build by ~$230, of which I was aiming between $800 and $1000. But, with the money I saved I ended up purchasing higher quality products such as my aluminum chassis, a more robust server CPU, and gold plus rated power supply raising my final total closer to $1,100. While it was not necessary to purchase Windows 8.1 Pro for Students and I don't play too many video games, my girlfriend and I do enjoy dabbling in gaming and since the majority of MMOs, MOBAs, and various games on Steam (like Skyrim) aren't Linux compatible yet I acquiesced... Well, I have talked too much and I digress so lets get to the good stuff.

  • CPU: The Intel Xeon Processor E3-1241v3B (8M Cache, 3.50 GHz) is an amazing steal for the quality and durability of the chip. By proxy of knowing the right people (i.e. being VERY lucky), I had the opportunity to ask current and former employees of Intel MANY questions about my first build I had in mind. While I had considered the Core i5/i7 initially, the Xeon Processor was highly regarded for its stability, power, and hyper-threading capabilities without many of the overheating issues that plague the the Core i-series. Although it is arguably not the best choice for gaming, as long as you don't care about overclocking to milk that extra frame or two than it is functionally an Intel Core i7-4770K but cheaper and w/out dedicated graphics. However, as it was explained to me, if you exceed the 8M cache of the CPU, then the process/computation will be throttled by the speed of your DRAM. Thus, in some ways, it is more pertinent to have faster DRAM (see Memory section) and save your CPU some stress. In terms of a workstation CPU, it is a powerhouse and would highly recommend to anyone who is looking for a CPU that can be used for various applications and parallel computing. Also, I haven't installed it yet, but I purchased a water cooling AIO setup on sale at Fry's that I'll add at some point.

  • MOBO: MSI Z97M Gaming Micro ATX LGA-1150 was more of an economical purchase for a mATX mobo b/c I was able to get a $30 rebate on it by buying it at Fry's. Also, I really liked the mATX EVOLV chassis size and aesthetics and needed something that would fit well in the case and provide a great amount of utility if I decide to upgrade: such as using 32GB of RAM, M.2 memory, or SLI GPUs. Great quality MOBO with straightforward BIOS for overclocking and tweaking. The only issue being that using the Windows 8/8.1 Feature will cause your system to go haywire, so be forewarned.

  • Memory: Corsair Vengeance Pro 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3-2400MHz Okay, so you may remember that I mentioned that you should have faster DRAM and you may have noticed that I am running at 11 CAS latency (or CL). Well, normally you would like to run your DRAM at a lower CAS value meaning it's transferring cache lines at a faster rate; however, since this is running at ~2400 MHz it effectively has a latency of (CAS 11 / 2400 MHz)*1000 = 4.58ns, which is great in comparison to the Kingston HyperX Fury DDR3-1866MHz, CL10 with a CAS latency of 5.35ns. Although not really noticeable in regular application, when processing large amounts of data it can really add up quickly.

  • Storage: Nothing special, Kingston V300 120 GB SSD for OS and WD Caviar Blue 1TB 7200 RPM w/ 64 MB cache HD for games and misc programs. Purchased another SSD for my computational programs that I will install as soon as I feel like messing up the cables...

  • Video Card/GPU: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 970 4GB WINDFORCE is a beautiful piece of hardware. It is extremely hyped up (for good reason), so I'll skip the pleasantries and assume that you'll find out from a better source than me. Thank you jrjohnson for the awesome card!

  • Case: Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV MicroATX Mini Tower is just a gorgeous chassis and very user-friendly assembly for those who may struggle with layout and organization. While heat was a concern due to the nearly covered top exhaust, I believe that a good water cooling setup (which is what it was designed for) can easily compensate. Besides there are so many great reasons to have this case over not, such as the water cooling and SLI ready setup, the aluminum design, and the overall functional layout. Watch this review by HardwareCanucks for a detailed overview.

  • PSU: My PSU is an EVGA SuperNova 550W Gold Standard and in retrospect I probably should have gone for a 650W but oh well... I mainly wanted something that would protect my hardware in case of a power outage (old house) and would save on my electric bill (always a plus!).

  • OS: I am running a Windows 8.1 (but really 10 when it comes out) and Fedora 22 workstation dual boot for all my Windows and Unix needs.

Thank you for taking the time to check this little guy out, it was tons of fun to research and finally build! If you have made it this far w/out falling asleep or you skipped here b/c honestly tl;dr, leave me a comment and hit me up with any questions you have about Vincent. I'd love to hear any suggestions or thoughts for improving next time I upgrade!

p.s. I want to thank jrjohnson for selling me the GTX 970, Ken H. for the solid advice on the CPU processor, and most of all Michael A. for all his background knowledge on how the computer system will work together to process my data and how to improve the efficacy of large scale data processing. Also, I want to thank my wonderful girlfriend for not hating me for building this computer despite her disapproval of spending a substantial amount of money on a computer I don't really need.

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Comments

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks for the great feedback on the build. +1

I am actually building myself a new rig with a the E3-1241 V3 Xeon and 980 Ti. It'll be almost purely a gaming computer (with daily use for small stuff) and lightly used as a work station in the near future. I decided to go with Xeon over an i7 because I didn't want to pay extra for the integrated graphics, and I wasn't interested in overclocking right now. The CPU and case come in Monday and Tuesday, I hope to be getting the build up by the end of the week on here. :)

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

That's great! I am glad I could provide some insight into the Xeon CPU you will be using. Honestly, overclocking the CPU is overrated. Primarily because you're slowly shortening the lifespan of the CPU simply to get a few FPS that are, in my honest opinion, hardly noticeable if you are already running near Ultra settings on your games. Besides, we all know that your graphic settings are pretty much entirely dependent upon your GPU, which is probably why more and more people are just buying Core i5s instead. Also, I agree that there really is no need for integrated graphics if you are running a gaming rig anyway.

p.s. It took me two weeks before I finished posting this on here, so take your time enjoying your new rig ;)

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I imagine I should be able to run Ultra settings on almost every game :) Doing research and finding out that the Xeon runs closely to an i7 (with a few differences, of course) I decided it was best for me to save a few bucks and get a solid multitasking and performing CPU.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

With Vincent, I run all games on high to Ultra settings. With a 980Ti you're going to kill any game you play. Share your build when you finish!

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I plan on it! :D

  • 40 months ago
  • 2 points

Why is the mouse marked at $0.00? when its 600+ rn??? lol

  • 39 months ago
  • 2 points

I want to see pictures of the mouse with the Old Republic symbol, I love Star Wars so I have a soft spot in my heart for that mouse more so because of Carrie Fishers death and her correlation to the Old and New Republic, but yea +1 ;)

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Great selection of parts, especially on the CPU choice +1

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks Alex, I love your budget build too! It seems we had similar ideas in mind in terms of part-time gaming. When you are an engineer (or physicist in my case), ain't nobody got time to play for hours haha

But, seriously, kudos on the build. I only bought the GTX 970 because I bought it used for ~$80 cheaper than sale price almost brand new. You did a fantastic job building for your own needs.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks mate :) Tell me about... its difficult to squeeze in leisure activities. But... since we've spent the money I guess it would be a waste not to have some fun with it!

All the best.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I have the same case on my personal rig! I never see this case on here hardly, glad to see another Great build with it!

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! I just looked at yours and you did exactly what I'm planning to do, which is buy Redbubble stickers for the case haha

I've been waiting for a 20% off day (which there happens to be one today) so I could buy all of the ones that have been sitting in my cart. I'll post picks as soon as I get them on my case.

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

Dude I absolutely love red bubble hahahahaha I got all mine on a 20% off day plus the 50% whet you order more then 5!

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

Hey sorry I'm late to the party, your build inspired me to create a xeon based PC primarily gaming/workstation for CAD and such, I liked your follow up with the fast ram but I still don't get how it increases performance significantly, if you can assist me in knowing how the profiles for faster ram function and the voltage recommended for the haswell refresh CPU won't fry my board with higher ram speeds. Loved Vincent btw <3

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

Unfortunately, my knowledge about how it improves performance for intensive processes, such as CAD, is very elementary (i.e. what I have posted in the Memory section). But, I'll send you a PM with the email that was sent to me by the manager at Intel I mentioned in the CPU section that thoroughly explains your question on how the fast ram improves performance significantly (this only applies to heavy processing and not gaming). On the second question, you do risk that the higher voltage draw can fry your CPU, but it is very unlikely when running a Xeon simply due to the fact that these processor are so robust and have protective measures due to being server chips. If you want more detailed response, I can send one of them an email asking your specific questions.

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

BTW... i really like the case you chose. Phanteks are really great cases for the money.

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

How did you go at 2400Mhz with the Xeon?
I mean you probably used the XMP but can your z97 push your rams to 2400mhz (default 1600) with a NON-OC cpu (in this case Xeon)

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  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks man, I really tried to build something that fit my needs and was the most cost efficient. Sorry if my wording was a bit too...verbose...haha

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