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Skylake research workstation

by lq0000


I built two identical machines for work with the intent of using them for network simulation. The simulator we use for most of our research is single-threaded, so we went with the i7-6700K as it currently boasts the best single-thread performance of anything on the market. We picked the fastest RAM we could find (DDR4-3200 w/ 14 cycle latency) and the latest chipset (Z170) in order to maximize I/O performance. We went with the GT 740 for graphics, as we don't use CUDA and definitely won't be doing any gaming on these machines -- we just needed something decent enough to run dual monitors, and handle some standard desktop applications smoothly at low cost. I had used this GPU for my personal build, so I picked it solely on the basis that it has worked smoothly for me and met our requirements.

Interestingly, this is my first time building a machine with a non-stock CPU cooler. I went with the CM Hyper 212 EVO because it had good reviews and seemed capable of keeping this CPU cool when overclocked. Maybe it is because of my inexperience, but I found it very difficult to install and it didn't help that the Ikea-style hieroglyphic manual was nearly indecipherable.

Beware that the clearance below the cooler is small, and on this motherboard it overlaps the DIMM slots. Because the TridentZ DIMMs have high heat spreaders, I had to face the fan to vent out the back of the case rather than the top as I intended. I also had to remove the brackets on the fan and move them to the opposite side in order to have the air flowing the right way. The cooler also barely fit within the case... I didn't think to check the clearance before ordering the parts, but I got lucky this time.

This case isn't really the best for cable management, but I managed to make do. Additionally, some parts of it seem cheaply made (e.g. the PCI covers are just break-off and not re-attachable) however externally it has a nice aesthetic for a professional workstation and it has enough space for everything including drives, PCI cards, fans, and potentially radiators. It also comes with a surplus of hardware, and even includes a buzzer (which is often overlooked, but instrumental in debugging a failed POST).

Fortunately, the CPU cooler was the only part of this assembly which was difficult. Everything else went smoothly, and it POSTed on the first try. Because the clock speed of our RAM was nonstandard, I had to hit the BIOS in order to configure the correct speed. The amount of configurability in the BIOS/UEFI of the Z170-A is actually somewhat intimidating, however to get the correct RAM speed I only had to enable XMP, which was very easy to find. I have not yet installed an OS (I will do so tomorrow), but I'm planning on running Ubuntu 16.04.1 on both machines. Once I get everything else set up, I will experiment with overclocking the CPU, however this is not an immediate priority... Currently, the machine runs very cool (32C on idle) and the fans are quiet.

Part Reviews

CPU Cooler

Difficult to install, but definitely keeps the CPU cool.


Beautiful DIMMs that achieve high performance and remain stable. However, be aware of the height of the heat spreaders as it may interfere in your build.

Video Card

Best card for the price, excellent for anything unless you're into serious gaming. Runs regular desktop applications smoothly, and is great at handling older games.


Great professional aesthetic and has lots of space. Also comes with lots of hardware, which is quite useful. Only downside is that the PCI bay covers are break-off and can't be re-attached.

Comments Sorted by:

Mackilroy 1 Build 1 point 31 months ago

I'd have gone for a Cryorig H7 - it's slightly more expensive, but I have both coolers, and it's easier to install, is a bit quieter, and cools better. Overall great build though! Always nice to see a build here that isn't oriented for gaming.

softbed 1 point 24 months ago

Does the Cryorig h5 or h7 fit this motherboard? Isnt it getting a little bit too close to the ram.

Mackilroy 1 Build 1 point 24 months ago

If it's anything like the ATX motherboard I have -- then the H7 would work. I don't know about the H5 though, I have no experience with it.

ConnorOsmond 1 point 31 months ago

why 64 gb of ram?

Atron 1 Build 1 point 31 months ago

Probably because simulation software is recourse heavy and needs it

nick8675309 1 point 30 months ago

The ram costs more than a 1070. Why?

Arkwoman1990 1 Build 1 point 30 months ago

a asus strix 1070 cost a tad bit more than the ram

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