This build is a drop-in replacement for my 5960X build from 3 years ago. As it is my main machine, the uses are still the same: Anime, gaming, and coding.
I wasn't planning another build until much later this year. But I needed AVX512 on my development machine and the opportunity presented itself. So I ended up scrapping together a bunch of parts from my other machines to get it running. The prices I've listed are what was spent for the build itself. Everything marked as zero is either salvaged from a different build or was already lying around unused.
CPU: Core i9 7940X
This chip has seen better days. But one man's trash is another man's treasure. So rather than let it sit idly on my desk, it is my duty to let it live out the rest of its useful life.
Motherboard: Gigabyte X299 Designare EX
This is one of two high-end boards from Gigabyte with specially designed VRM cooling to handle the power draw of the large HCC Skylake X chips. The other is the Gigabyte X299 Gaming 7 Pro - which doesn't seem to be available anywhere.
I have prior overclocking experience with both the Gigabyte X299 Gaming 7 and the Asus X299 Rampage VI Apex. I didn't like the Apex and I wasn't willing to risk an unfamiliar BIOS for such a complicated platform. So I stuck with Gigabyte.
Memory: 8 x 8GB
These were taken directly out of my 5960X box and overclocked slightly to 2666 MT/s. As much as I wanted 128GB of top-binned RGB, it's stupidly expensive right now.
This ram is temporary. Whenever I get more ram, the existing kit goes back in my 5960X system so I can bring it back online as a testing sandbox.
Video Card: GTX 1050 Ti
Taken from my Ryzen build. Now is not a great time to be buying video cards either.
Cooler: Thermaltake Floe Riing RGB 360 + 3 x Corsair ML120
I have RGB fever. Don't blame me for it.
The stock RGB Riing fans on the left (pull) are for show. The "real" fans are the Corsair ML120's on the right side (push). They are much more powerful.
Case: Fractal Design Define C TG
It's one of the smallest ATX cases with both a glass window and room for a 360 radiator with push+pull configuration.
All my recent builds have been also been smaller form factors.
Storage: Western Digital Blue 500GB SATA3
Had a couple of these lying around. No need to buy anything.
Power Supply: Thermaltake RGB 850W
I have this same power supply in my last build and I like it. So I bought another one.
If I ever get back into high-end gaming, this PSU may not be enough to handle 400W from the overclocked CPU and a high-end video card simultaneously. But I'll deal with it then.
The Riing 12 and 14's are for the top and back. The ML120s are for the radiator. I bought them in bulk knowing I wouldn't be fitting them all in. But this won't be my last build. So all the extra parts will roll into future builds.
What Worked Well:
- The 3-year old memory seems to work fine overclocked.
- The chip runs much cooler than my Core i9 7900X. So I'm actually able to push the clocks much higher despite having more cores. (admittedly, it's a bigger die, so there's also more contact surface area)
- Because the chip runs so much cooler, the overclock is limited by voltage as I was unwilling to allow voltages higher than 1.32v.
- 9 of the 14 cores are running at 4.7 GHz (non-AVX). The rest hit the 1.32v limit and the BIOS lacks the option to override voltages on a per-core basis. So I run them at a lower speed. (i.e. differential overclocking)
- The BIOS has an option to turn off certain fans when the relevant temperature is low enough. So I set the Corsair ML120s on the radiator (which are very loud and powerful) to turn off completely when the chip is cold. (The Riing fans stay on to provide the necessary basic cooling.)
The main issue with the build is the aesthetics. The build was poorly planned and quite a few parts were salvaged. So a lot of things didn't work out.
- The RGB on the power supply is barely visible through the bottom shroud.
- There's a significant lack of backlighting due to the lack of RGB on the motherboard.
- No RGB on either the ram or the video card.
- Mixing of the 1st generation Riing fans with the software controlled 2nd gen fans that came with the cooler. The 2nd gen fans are much brighter and less "transparent" than the 1st gen fans. This mismatch looks weird.
- The placement and lack of suitable Anime figurines to put in the case. While this worked well for my last build, the colors of these ones don't match well with the RGB. This is something I'll need to fix when I head back to this year's Anime conventions.
- The USB3 ports on the back panel don't seem to work with external hard drives even with the latest drivers. I haven't had time to debug this yet. But at least the onboard ones (via header) work fine.
- The thunderbolt ports on the back panel won't support video output without a discrete video card. So as much as I had wanted to try running it without a video card, that wasn't going to happen.
- This case is very small. Putting in a 360 radiator with push/pull forces you to take out the drive cage. So I had to move both my hard drives externally over USB (thus running into the problem of the back panel USBs not handing them).
- The case power LED and HD activity LED are visually very difficult to distinguish from each other. I decided to switch them by swapping the cables that plug into the motherboard.
Possible Future Upgrades:
Given the circumstances of this build, it will probably look completely different a couple months from now.
- 128GB of ram. This is needed the most (almost desperately) since parallel compilations will overrun 64GB.
- RGB video card. Preferably a longer one so that there's more standing room for the figurines.
- Possibly some RGB strips.
- Cascade Lake X