Description

As the name suggests, I carefully assembled my monster by purchasing these parts over a five-month period in an effort to lock in the best possible prices. Also, I was fortunate enough to receive some of the pieces as Christmas gifts.

This is the first modern-era gaming rig I assembled from scratch... The last time I dabbled in such activity, Cyrix still produced reputable processors and Matrox was a legitimate competitor in the video card market.

I decided on the x79 build because of the potential for a future upgrade to a six-core 4960x, a full 40 lanes of PCIe 3.0 availability and the possibility of 64gb of quad-channel memory. Further, having a Micro Center––with its virtually unbeatable CPU price structure––made the decision even easier.

While I started on this project way back in November, I was only able to complete the build a few days ago. Because of the Litecoin mining surge, the non-reference Radeon 290s were dramatically overpriced for a little more than a month. While they've come back down a bit, all the 280xs, 290s and 290xs are still well above MRSP values. (I couldn't believe that the Sapphire 290s went above $700 for a few weeks on Newegg.) I lucked out, and found one of the few remaining XFX DDs at MacMall for $510 last month.

Speaking of XFX, that 1050w PSU was a steal at $155 bucks from NCIX. Without question, SeaSonic is the Cadillac of power supply manufacturers. And yes, it is full-blown overkill at this point; however, upon Crossfire in the future, I'll need at least 850w to 900w.

As alluded to––within the next two years, I plan to add a second Radeon 290, and increase the memory to 48gbs.

Obviously, I am still in the infancy of testing the system, and have only played a few games. But, considering Max Payne 3 and RAGE totally smoked my previous rig (Pentium 4 EE 3.73, 4gb 533mhz, Radeon 4850) it was nice to crank them up to ultra without any sweat.

The temperatures, thus far, have been nothing short of unfathomable. Granted, the ambient temperatures in my basement hover around 58 degrees F. Nevertheless, the previous rig's 4850 would hit 93 degrees C within 20 minutes of playing Painkiller HD at 1080p.

With any luck, I'll squeeze at least six to eight years out of this puppy upon maximum expansion.

Comments

  • 69 months ago
  • 3 points

Thank you for the preliminary feedback. Jaredt, to address your comment... I was fairly certain that fellow builders would ask why I didn't go for the 4770k instead. You know... The whole "PCIe 3.0 is miles beyond the software at this point, and quad-channel won't be viable for years to come..."

Here's a long-winded explanation. While this is my first complete build since the mid 90s, I've seen A LOT of hardware technologies triumph and fail over time. Here's two relatively recent examples.

Example 1. Back in 2000-2001, one of the hottest hardware topics was the development of RDRAM (RAMBUS memory). RDRAM's clock speeds ran between 800mhz and 1066mhz, when the going rate for SDRAM was circa 133mhz. Sure, it cost a decent amount more than SD memory (like up to a buck a meg!!!), but the performance alongside a 423-pin Pentium 4 was difficult to argue with. Well, in about two more years, SDRAM caught up, with superior latency and comparable clock speeds. In another year, RAMBUS was totally obsolete with the advent of the 478-pin Pentium 4s. RDRAM's price remained high, and was a complete bust over the long-haul. Gamble lost.

Example 2. Back in 2003-2004, another super-hot hardware topic was 64-bit compatible CPUs. AMD was the first to release a consumer-grade version in its Athlon processor line. At the same time, Intel didn't have an answer for 64-bit technology in a consumer capacity... Just Xeon. The AMD chips were mildly more expensive than their Pentium 4 counterparts. The Intel fans suggested that 64-bit technology was MILES away from being relevant, that drivers would never be compatible and that the 4GB ram ceiling wasn't ever going to matter (because high-end rigs at that time sported 256mb to 512mb). Well, within a few years, 64-bit took off, as we all know. Those who invested slightly more in an Athlon processor made out BIG TIME, and could keep those systems running for much longer than the 32-bit Pentium 4s. In fact, with hindsight, that generation of AMD processors was one of the best price-to-performance investments in recent history. Another gamble, but this one positive.

So, this brings me back to my system... Is PCIe 3.0 relevant for gaming now? Not really. But, will such bandwidth likely be demanded by cutting-edge games in 2017? Probably. Same goes for quad-channel bandwidth. So, I am hedging my bets on the future as much as possible. Hell, I don't know if Mantle will ever pay dividends. It could be PhysX 2.0 for all we know. But, it might turn out to be revolutionary as well. We'll just have to see. DDR4 could make all our systems look like total garbage.

Anyway--now I feel like pretty old man, making these dated references :-).

  • 69 months ago
  • -2 points

I don't see more ram making much of a difference. A couple years ago 8gb's of ram was considered the norm. A couple years before that 512mb's of ram was the norm. Fast forward to the present and 8gb's is still all a gamer could ever need. The curve of how much ram you need really seems to be settling out. 16gb's is way overkill for a gamer. That's just how its been for a couple years now. And there really has been no indication of needing more ram for a while. I don't really ever use over 6gb's of ram. Ddr4 is looking like server ram at this point. The ram sizes start at 8gb's per stick. At least I haven't seen any with a density lower than 8gb sticks. With the timings being as high as they are with that big of a storage size it looks like server ram. I won't put it in my system with a cas of 18. It just doesn't make any sense with how ram speed makes so little of a difference compared to cas latency.

  • 69 months ago
  • 2 points

Software conversion from 32bit with 4GB memory limit to 64bit has been lagging way behind. Businesses and individuals holding on to their 32bit XP install isn't helping either. Things could be sooo much faster if software started using memory properly. Unfortunately, most developers out there barely know what a dictionary or hashtable is yet alone multi-threading applications. Hardware wise, think about this.... the entire windows 8.1 OS (or 60GB) could be loaded into memory in 1 second with quad channel memory. Programmers WILL start using memory better once 32 bit is completely dead.

  • 69 months ago
  • 1 point

Fantastic build for the price!

  • 69 months ago
  • 1 point

Why go socket 2011 for gaming? No games use more than 8 threads. You don't need 40 3.0 lanes for a single or even 2 or 3 way crossfire. You can run 3 way on socket 1150 boards that only have 20 pcie lanes. The 4820k is on an old architecture and the P9X79 LE is a bare bones board for Socket 2011. Getting a 4770k and a cheaper motherboard would have been a better choice. Unless you do much more than gaming. I noticed you wanted quad channel ram, but for a gaming machine (no other tasks were mentioned and it was call "This is the first modern-era gaming rig I assembled from scratch," key words gaming rig) who cares. Its just for bragging rights. There would be no really performance gains from quad channel on a gaming rig.

  • 69 months ago
  • 1 point

I completely agree with all of this.

  • 69 months ago
  • 1 point

That CPU cooler is surprisingly nice-looking.

  • 63 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice build!

If I were you I wouldn't have gotten an AMD card simply because miners jacked up the prices so hard. At the time you bought your machine it would have been more practical to just get a GeForce 780.

Nonetheless, +1

  • 63 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks, man. Yeah... In retrospect, you're probably right with regard to the 780... I stubbornly held out for non-reference 290s to appear on the market, because of the bridgeless crossfire and potential upside associated with Mantle, going into the future. Thus far, Mantle hasn't really added up to anything tangible. Then, within less than two months, the Litecoin mining surge died, and the non-reference 290s plummeted to less than $400. (I was just glad that I wasn't one of the poor chaps to pull the trigger on a Sapphire 290 Tri-X when it was listed at $729.)

However, I have to admit that the XFX DD 290 is the coolest card I've ever used. Even with a 6% overclock on both the memory and core, the bad boy doesn't reach above 78 degrees on Valley or Heaven at 1080/Ultra, or 82 degrees on Furmark. Definitely a top-notch non-reference cooler!