Its been about 12 years and I’ve only owned 2 laptops (one of them a gaming Alienware from 2015). The Alienware is the closest thing I’d consider a gaming PC that I’ve owned. I decided it was time for an upgrade, a BIG one. Especially since I’ve noticed new games are tough on my old 4th gen Intel mobile chip and GTX 970M.
Thus I designed The Aurora.
It was a long time coming, and perfect timing as I was beginning to lean towards AMD last year. After hearing about the 3950x coming out, I knew it had to be THE chip to get. It is probably the most powerful desktop processor ever made, so I designed this entire system around it and spared no expense.
Anything and everything.
I do a lot of gaming, but I also do a lot of pentesting work (I use a lot of VMs) so virtualization is something I also wanted to incorporate. Additionally, I like to do some 3D editing/rendering on the side as part of my own personal graphic design projects.
This was a completely custom build. I researched and decided on all parts by myself (~95% sure everything would fit). It goes without saying that there would most likely be some challenges to face as I was building.
Loop & Tubes: The loop was something that I had to design as I began installing things. Hard tube bending was not terribly hard to figure out, I wasted around 1.5-2m of tubing but leak tested twice after deciding on the final loop order and I did not have a single leak or accident. I bought the Thermaltake bending kit from amazon (silicon insert from here was crucial) and a heat gun. The angle benders it came with imo were crap. They were built well, but I ended up free bending everything and that worked out better for me. To each ther own I guess.
Case: I had to take a Dremel to the case, a con of not realizing my vertical mount only supports a 2-slot GPU and my EVGA card (even with the block) takes up 2.75 slots. After a little case modding and cutting a couple things off the card fit perfectly.
Overview of Parts
Case: Thermaltake View 71
This was an interesting choice. For a long time, the case was something that hindered me from starting a build, since there are SO many different options, an overwhelming amount honestly. Essentially for me it boiled down to the fact that I wanted a full-size tower, modern aesthetics, and tempered glass to be able to see the whole build.
Review sites and forums led me to the Thermaltake View 71. It was perfect (upon first glance, didn’t foresee any Dremeling to be done). It came with 3 fans that I planned on replacing anyways, but it’s big, has plenty of glass panes, and plenty of room for hardware.
Processor: Ryzen 9 3950X
As I mentioned this system is designed around this 16-core, 32-thread beast of a processor. I’d been following it since the announcement of the 3rd gen Ryzen series as I was already on the fence between Intel/AMD.
That last slide during their release presentation that alluded to this 16-core processor sold me, especially since AMD is on 7nm now. Shout out to Lisa Su killing it.
Since it was expected in September, that’s when I had most of my parts by. Sadly, it wasn’t until this past Monday (Nov. 25th) that I woke up at 8am to reserve my CPU from Microcenter. Luckily, they still had 10 in stock when I reserved, and that afternoon when I went to pick it up, they were completely sold out.
Needless to say, it was worth the wait.
Cooling: EKWB + Alphacool + Hardware Labs + Corsair
Fans: 6x Corsair LL120 & 4x Corsair LL140
CPU: EK-Velocity D-RGB - AMD Nickel & Plexi
GPU: EK-Quantum Vector FTW3 RTX 2080 Ti D-RGB - Nickel & Plexi + Nickel Backplate
Pump: EK-XTOP Revo D5 RGB PWM – Plexi
Reservoir: Alphacool Eisbecher Helix 250mm Reservoir
Radiators: Hardware Labs Nemesis GTS (360 & 240)
The cooling is the show piece. I could have gone for the AIO coolers or a simple soft tube setup, however since it was my first complete PC build I decided to go all out. The corsair fans were a given, the LL specifically are solid static pressure fans and have great RGB :] Also I have found that Corsair has pretty solid software for lighting sync and sensor readouts. I did lots of research and determined that the EKWB hardware for cooling blocks, tubes, and fittings were the way to go. For radiators, Hardware Labs was the choice, specifically the Nemesis GTS rads, as they are slim and stealthy and have amazing cooling capability.
Aside from EKWB and Hardware Labs, the remaining cooling features were all by Alphacool as they have a great reputation and solid build quality. The Helix Resevoir has to be my favorite piece of this build (come on, T-Virus anyone?..).
I have a few water loop temp sensors hidden (one at the bottom of the res and one at the top mounted rad) which are both made by Alphacool as well to give precise temp readings inside the loop.I additionally installed some ball valve at the bottom of the res for a drain port.
The loop has been a steady 28-29°C at idle and rarely higher than 35°C at load.
Motherboard: GIGABYTE X570 AORUS MASTER
There were a handful of options here. After reading and watching many Buildzoid videos on motherboard specs, it was apparent that GIGABYTE’s Aorus line was the #1 pick for X570 boards at the moment.
The new X570 Aorus Master and Aorus Extreme boards have a true 12+2 Phase VRM powered by an Infineon XDPE312G5C controller. That Infineon chip from what I’ve read is basically the first 16-phase consumer mainly meant for powering very large, non-consumer server set ups and it can deliver up to 1000A no problem to the board. Also has a good active X570 chipset cooling fan (doesn’t get loud at all). Needless to say, there’s a lot of potential for overclocking here.
Also, the board has plenty of I/O features (front/back USB 3.2 Gen2 slots, 2.5Gb Lan, Wifi, and of course PCIE 4.0 support).
The reason I did not opt for the Aorus Extreme, is because the EATX form factor was just a tad too big. The board would have been covering a lot of the cable routing slots and could have made the build much more painful. I think for the price, it’s the best board for X570 you can get for a 3950x.
Video Card: EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti FTW3 ULTRA GAMING
This is it. Aside from the GALAX and K|NGP|N liquid cooled cards, this is probably the fastest and most powerful aftermarket 2080 Ti there is. EVGA is using a non-reference PCB that has their own custom power delivery and VRM which gives the board a lot more potential for goin FAST.
The other reason is because this is (at least when I was designing) the only non-reference board that EKWB had built a custom water block and backplate for. It a monster 11GB card that I’ve been pushing at a steady and stable 2115MHz Boost clock with room for improvement.
Power Supply: Corsair HX1200i
This was one of the purchases that I intentionally thought was over the op. This machine does not draw 1000W even while benchmarking. I did decide to go with the big PSU basically because its future proof. I can expand this in the future and not have to worry about power.
Additionally, since the Aurora doesn’t draw all that power, the PSU runs cool and quiet during operation.
Memory: G.SKILL TridentZ RGB 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3200 [3200C16Q-32GTZR]
This was actually the first item I bought. Also, one purchase that I could have gone more over the top.
I’ve never had any problems with G.Skill and they are a very reputable memory producer which is why I went with them. The TridentZ RGB is also a great line. 3200 was the best rated speed for the 3rd Gen Ryzen’s so that’s why I went with it.
Part of me wished that I could have gotten 64GB Corsair for better lighting integration and more virtualization support, but 32GB will be plenty and can always be upgraded.
Storage: Corsair Force MP600 1TB & RAID 0 2x 1TB Samsung 860 EVO
The Force MP600. Gen4 NVMe. 5GB write speed. Gen4 NVMe drives are the fastest that are available right now. Need I say more? This drive will be where all of my games are stored. I set up a RAID 0 on the motherboard with both of the Samsung 860 EVO which comes out to 2TB of drive space. This is my OS drive. I decided I would rather have my games load faster than my OS (the bootup time difference between the two is honestly negligible..).
RGB: ALL the RGB
I heard it makes your PC faster?
The Corsair Commander Pro is installed on the backside connected by two lighting node pros and 4 temp sensors (1 inside the case, 1 outside the case, and 2 integrated into the watercooling loop). There are 10 fans in this system so I used splitters for both sets of 3x LL120’s in order to have them spin at the same RPM, while still having room left on the fan hub of the Commander.
This was a b**ch. It took a lot of zip ties and organization to make pretty. The case is very large, but I also packed a bunch of hardware into the case so there was a LOT of cables. In the end I kept everything routed well along the sides and throughout the back without blocking my fan slots. I tried to keep the open part of the case as clean as possible:
Cables list: 1x 24-pin ATX 2x 8-pin EPS (powering CPU) 2x 8-pin PCIe (powering GPU) Case cables (Power, Reset, HDD LED, Front Audio, USB, etc.) 10x Corsair LL fans (2 cables - ARGB/Power for each fan) 2x 3-way fan splitters 2x SATA cables GPU Block ARGB CPU Block ARGB D5 Pump Power/PWM/RGB 2x Barrowch Flow & Temp sensors 4x temp sensors * 1x Reservoir CCFL inverter cable (for UV light inside Res)
That is all from the top of my head, there may be more. It took a whole day for me to route and secure all the cables, but it turned out pretty well.
I obviously have this machine that is built for overclocking, so I must not let any of it go to waste.
Currently Im pushing the 3950x to 4.35GHz Core clock @ 1.356V on the VCore. The CPU is very stable and this is easily a 24/7 OC even when underload. I think I may have gotten a good chip from the silicon lottery and there may be more to push out from it.
For the GPU, I'm at +180MHz Core clock and +1315MHZ on the mem clock. I've been averaging around 2115MHz clock while under load and its very stable, so I think there might be more room to push higher there as well.
I haven’t messed around with the memory yet. I have the default XMP profile set on the motherboard, so it should be handling the mem speed automatically and is rated well enough for the 3950x.
The system runs extremely cool, the loop is around mid-to high 20s at idle and at load I've hardly seen it reach 40 even after a couple hours of intense gaming. The chips themselves are around 35°C at idle and maybe low 60°C when under full load.
It’s also extremely quiet. My fans will only ramp up high if it gets in high 60s. I think the radiators are doing a great job. Also, the Corsair LL fans are just quiet overall imo. One of the other things that I think it helping keep it cool is the winter weather (I dont keep heat on in my apt lol and its about 40-50°F daily here on the east coast).
I could not be happier with this build. For a long time I had been wowing over pictures of battlestations on reddit and imgur always wanting one. It took some confidence to be able to go into a build like this. There will always be roadblocks when it comes to extreme builds like this, but you have to take everything one step at a time and it will always work out. It was incredibly fun and satisfying to turn my apt into a workshop, build this over a few days, and then power it on for the first time.
I have to thank YouTube channels like JayzTwoCents and GamersNexus. I watched and learned a lot from them. They gave amazing tips when it came to building as well as hardware specifications/customizations. Could not recommend them highly enough.
For a first build I honestly think it came out great. For anyone who is not sure whether or not they can build the extreme, you can. You should go for it. Do the required research, but go for it. Having a monster battlestation and bragging rights in the end is worth it ; )
There might be a lot of small parts (fittings, etc) missing from the build list, so if you have any questions about it or the build process as a whole please feel free to ask, I’ll be more than happy to help.