Description

This computer was a learning curve as my first computer. My wife and I had decided in 2013 that we needed to stop wasting money on laptops and to build a computer. Despite the advances of technology and the easy ability to look up information, I was under the impression that you needed “tools” to still build computers. Like soldering equipment and things of that nature. No idea it was essentially plug and play now for desktop computers. All computers I had ever used came from 1 of 2 places:

1 Built by Asian guys at computer shows, in casino ballrooms, who would take about four hours to “build” your computer with their soldering equipment and everything else.

2 Compaq/HP computers. That was the only brand(s) my parents ever bought.

Well thanks to my lovely wife, I became educated, started buying computer magazines, and looking up stuff on the internet. This is what I learned in no particular order:

1 Computers are only as complicated as you make them.

2 Research/Planning is very important before you buy stuff.

3 Building computers is fun.

4 You shouldn’t let biases cloud your judgment.

5 After listening to the wisdom of 4 pick the right parts for the job. To do this, spend as much time on 2 as possible.

6 Enjoy that you are making something, even if inspired by or attempting to copy someone else, enjoy it.

7 Things change, you, equipment, requirements, etc., so be clear on what you need for where you want to be. This sounds similar to 2 doesn’t it. It’s the third time 2 has been mentioned. It’s that important.

8 Ask questions to get answers. Don’t assume, it can cost you.

So I started with AMD and have changed over to Intel. The migration was mostly due to issues I was having with my AMD components. Mostly the original Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3 Rev. 4.0. The motherboard I had was just problematic. The options in the BIOS wouldn’t always apply themselves when activated or deactivated. The USB 3.0 header for the front computer ports wouldn’t respond half the time. I couldn't overclock the CPU. The LAN chip was problematic for me. This motherboard, specifically this revision, wasn’t Linux friendly at all. I failed to look that up. So that cost me, literally.

Personally, I hated that motherboard. It made me feel like I can’t buy Gigabyte motherboards anymore. At least not AMD. The BIOS/UEFI were horrible to navigate and were poorly set up compared to other manufacturers. I feel like MSI has the best BIOS/UEFI set up. I also like how they color code them to match the board/theme.

So far my ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Killer is outshining my older 990FXA-UD3. The BIOS/UEFI is easier to navigate and has a smoother layout. It’s more responsive and works right away. The CPU pins are on the board and not the chip itself, which is a much better design in my opinion. I hate that AMD chips have the pins on the chips and are then put into the board. It leaves more opportunities for bent pins.

Intel chips are worth the cost if you have the money for them. AMD is not bad, but they aren’t number one for a reason. There is nothing wrong with them being the budget option. I started with AMD, was a fan boy, but I wanted a better CPU. Same goes for Nvidia cards over AMD cards. They are better for a reason. Intel and Nvidia also play better with Linux out of the box. Note, I said better for those people running Linux on AMD systems. I still like AMD for what they are trying to do, I just feel like they need to focus on where they excel. That means better APUs, using better hardware and manufacturing processes, along with better dual graphics configuration for stronger cards. I still think about an A10/R7-250 combo one day.

So because I failed to do 2, I learned and changed out components. Which points to 8. I spent around $600 on three new components to get a system that does what I want it to do. Almost the cost of an entire system build from scratch. But hey, I should be good for awhile now, bar any parts breaking.

Part Reasons:

CPU-The Xeon is a great CPU. Most Xeons are if you are looking for long term hardware that won’t crack under pressure. Server processors are made to run hot and long. So they make sense for applications that can take all night, rendering! Also, they will have a longer life span over their home consumer brothers even if you don’t have heavy needs. Side note, better performance for the price if you aren’t going to OC either.

CPU Cooler- Price to performance, period. Push/pull with Cougar fans for increased efficiency. Cooler parts last longer, that statement is a matter of fact, regardless of the percentages gained from a push/pull configurations. No OCing, so why water cool? I also love the look of the push/pull set up. One fan on the front or rear just looks off balance and wrong.

Mobo- The ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Killer came with a Killer NIC that was Linux compatible which was a must. I want Linux to connect out the box. It “can” overclock even though it is an H97. So if I wanted to give my Xeon a slight bump, I could. But I wont. It’s an Intel board, also more Linux friendly out the box. I don’t need two GPUs, ever. I don’t see the point, personally, and don’t want it. I am fine with a single dedicated GPU. Blender also uses a single precision floating point for Cycles rendering and has better CUDA support. So no SLI, and this board supports Crossfire exclusively.

Memory- It works and has a “low” CAS latency? Most important thing is that it works.

Storage- Intel 520 for Win10. I got the 520 from my wife as a hand me down on her constant upgrades for her old laptops. Although we have converted her to a desktop user now as well. The 500GB is for Linux, but will be replaced with a 250GB Corsair SSD once my wife upgrades again. I won’t need a massive SSD for Linux...yet. Right now though the 500GB needs to be put to use. The 1TB is for media and games (Steam for the win). All Windows programs are stored exclusively on the 520 with any saved files on the WD 1TB.

GPU- The EVGA GTX 960 4G SuperSC is a beast compared to my old Sapphire R7 260X. Now I roll 1080p. 4GB on a 128 bus may seem not worth it to some people, and for those people, good for them. I will be utilizing programs though that will take advantage of the 4GB of VRAM though (Blender, Cycles rendering with CUDA cores). Also, even at 1080p some games are taking advantage of the 4GB of VRAM (Assassins Creed Syndicate). On the Linux side of things, this card will be perfect for current and future plans.

Case- The Corsair C70 was a case I always enjoyed and got approval from the misses on for its looks. It works, and has room for what I need. I enjoy the removable drive cages as I took the middle cage out for increased airflow to the GPU. The only thing that doesn’t work, is the HDD light. The side panels are easy to remove which is a plus, and the carry handles work great. The only problem I have with the case is the vented side window. It let in so much dust I thought it was ridiculous. To fix that I ordered the smoked window from MNPCTech. Less dust, better air flow/pressure, win/win. One of the best upgrades to the case.

Power Supply- Bronze rated, works and supplies enough power. No plans to OC or have multiple GPUs so the size is perfectly fine. I probably wont change it until it dies. When that happens, I will probably go full modular.

Optical Drive- For ripping CDs from the local library. That is all it does now. Streaming/Digital Downloads have really made these things less significant, but they are still useful if you now what to use them for.

Case Fans- Cougar fans for three reasons. I like the looks, price, and performance they offer. Now I have seen/heard what Noctua can do first hand from my wife’s computer. They are great, but I like Cougar. I think they are No. 2 on a lot of lists for good reason. However, I might get two Noctuas to replace the stock case fans I put on the top for exhaust.

Monitor- Damn good monitor back in 2014, and still damn good today. I don’t necessarily like the border, but it does a great job. I like the matte finish as well. Glossy is bleh in my opinion. At the time of purchase I thought it was stiff on price, but it is worth it.

Keyboard- The CM Storm QuickFire XT with brown switches is a great board. My wife and I had originally planned to get two WASD keyboards, but she did some research. The CM QuickFire line has great reviews and are completely compatible with the WASD key caps. So we saved some money their. I haven’t ordered the custom key caps yet. Custom designs take time, and I’ve been divided on that.

Final Thoughts:

I like where I am at with the build. I feel like the part choices from original to current state are worth it.

You can check out my wife’s build here, The Nostromo.


Update 05-12-2016

Added the photos with the Xeon in place and the ASRock board. Along with both Cougars on the Hyper 212.

One thing I'm not a fan of when it comes to the ASRock board though is where the fan headers are located. Three are on top above the socket, two are right under the socket so a tower cooler gets in the way, but "helps" hide the cables. The last hookup is on the bottom, that isn't really a problem. It's the two in the middle that are annoying. Thank goodness for splitter cables.

Future Upgrades again...

A GPU bracket from MNPCTech because I like how it looks more than anything else. The GTX 960 is not a heavy card by any means. I don't have any sag issues on the MOBO. I just like the way that it looks and why not have the support?

Two Noctua 140mm fans for the top exhaust. It won't go with my Cougar collection at all, but I think they will be worth it for the airflow:noise ratios.

A fully modular PSU. Sleeved cables/extensions for the PSU. The cables/extensions will also be for the system fans. That is one thing I would like to say I don't care for on this MOBO, the fan pin locations. Power, CPU1 and CPU2 are all on the top of the board, okay, that is fine. Chassis fan 1 is located on the bottom of the board, still okay. Chassis fan 2 and 3 are located under the CPU Socket, left corner, next to the network chip, right above the GPU and parallel to the actual RAM brackets. NOT OKAY. The cables can be ran, but it looks awkward and runs cables across the board for no reason I can see, other than ASRock's personal [maybe evil] joy. I won't let those pin locations beat me though.

M.2 SSD for the main Linux drive. One more SATA SSD to replace an HDD. That would give two for operating systems, one more for ? and one HDD for mass storage still.

Custom paint, maybe.

Custom keys for the keyboard.

More RAM.

And anything else I might want that is not yet decided.

Comments

  • 41 months ago
  • 3 points

Dat xeon build! +1

  • 41 months ago
  • 3 points

Thank you. I've seen your builds before on here. I have always thought them to be interesting and yet sensible for where you live. I have a coworker from Argentina and he said that prices on things down there can be horrible depending on how the government is operating and where you live.

Side note, 2nd best soccer team in the world behind Brazil! Lol, just kidding. Argentina has a great national team. I wouldn't personally say who is or is not better between the two in the Americas.

  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

lol

I think this goverment and the previous one have good points.

  • The first one had lower prices and taxes, but parts stock was POOR, so they would be more expensive (has no sense). Hyper 212 EVO wasn't in stock! D:
  • The new one has a lot of stock (well, not ALL the stuff Cryorig products haven't arrived yet , but most of the typical parts) but they are overpriced. But a product that was with poor stock in the last goverment would be cheaper in this one...

Politics for dummies! :D

  • 41 months ago
  • 3 points

Woot!! Another Xeon/960 build! great explanations as well! +1

  • 41 months ago
  • 3 points

Thank you. I tried to give a good explanation without doing too much or sounding too pushy.

  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

Excellent first build!

  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

Thank you. It took some time to get here, but it has been worth it.

  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

Nice! Go team Xeon!

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

They are nice once you see that they are out there.

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

I agree!

  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

Pic 12. I can totally see a neighbor looking through a window and saying to his wife: Honey, there's an odd fellow taking pictures of a box on top of a generator. He must be trying to hack into our powergrid. Call the police!

  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

I love the comment, funny as can be.

  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

I like the military feel of this, well done. Good advice on the preparation. I made a bill of materials, tool list and a step by step instructions on my build to help reduce the risk of making mistakes during install. The key for me was to set a budget and vision of the system and work towards that end with the flexibility to alter the plan as long as the budget and vision stayed intact. Again, Nice Build.

  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

Thank you. Yeah, the budget for this one went beyond what was expected with upgrades. I didn't plan it out well enough in the beginning. Hence the name. You have a nice build for the budget.

  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

Curious, what Linux distro do you use?

Also, great build. You're the first person I've seen to actually pull off a good-looking build in this case. +1

  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

Currently running Mint 17.3 KDE. It has been the easiest out the box with the fewest hiccups so far. I tried to get into openSUSE back when I had the AMD parts and it was problematic. I liked the design philosophy, but have not gone back to it since the Intel upgrade. So for not its Mint. I like it, very easy, straight forward, clean, lots of support. You get majority of the pros of a company based distro, yet still managed by the community.

In the future though, I may go back to openSUSE or to CBPP, or something else. I don't know, but the beauty is with Linux, we have options.

Thank you for the comment about the case as well. I think the C70 is a tough case to work with and most people try to hard to be "militaristic" with it.

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah... no. The xeon wasn't too great a choice. Rendering prefers to use more slower cores, but the xeon you picked is only a quad core. Plus, like you said xeons are meant for servers or super hard core rendering and workhorse machines. However, as stated, your xeon is only a quad core, which is only good for the server side of things, which doesn't involve rendering.

  • 41 months ago
  • 3 points

As various people have stated, on here and many other Xeon build threads, for the price point, the Xeon is a good choice.

In the event that there is a scene to be rendered, and the GPU rendering can't handle it. I would have the Xeon on tap to push the workload through, and not worry about temperatures, failure rates, etc. Even at a quad core, it will do what I need it to do.

  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

It is still hyper threaded and about $100 less than its i7 counterpart. Great deal for the power. Sure an E5 Xeon or higher core i7 might be better for rendering but not at this price point by far.

My E3-1246 has yet to go above 55C with the stock cooler when pushed (case is well ventilated) but pushes 8 threads at 3.9 ghz (more if i edit BCLK) for less than US$280. Can't beat that

  • 41 months ago
  • 3 points

Thank you for the positive comments.

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

I like my Xeon. Super cool and stable and I can toss a whole server test VM structure at it without losing performance in game. an i3 might work and an i5 might be great for gaming but that isn't all some people do. Keep rocking the budget i7. I'll toss the $100 I saved at a 1070.

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

Now that is a stunning C70 build. I love your choice of parts, good job on the Xeon; it's probably the best CPU for its price-point.

Great work on the photos - in which country do you reside? It looks stunningly beautiful, although we can't see much.

  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

I live in the "Good old U.S. of A." Southwest region, specifically, the "magnificent adult playground" of Las Vegas, NV. The desert can be very beautiful, and comes in many forms. High desert, low desert, dry desert, humid desert, red desert, white desert, brown desert, "green" desert. I personally like it, the only problem is the temperature variances. I don't mind the heat, but it can be tough. Due to the tough heat though, cold for us isn't the same as everyone else, but it's hard to swing the other way. 120 on the high side for summer, low/no humidity. 40 to 50 on the high side for winter.

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

Well, Nevada must be some place you're proud of! It looks stunning, maybe that's just because I'm Kurdish and the heat resonates with me - no idea.

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

This sho run about the same... http://pcpartpicker.com/p/jTxNLk

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

you could have got a faster i7 cpu for the same price if gameing is yr goal

  • 31 months ago
  • 1 point

If you could provide a faster i7 for the same price I would be amazed.

  • 39 months ago
  • 1 point

Hey what kind of temps are u getting @ full load with the hyper evo cooler ?

  • 39 months ago
  • 1 point

I ran Prime95 for 2 hours and 17 minutes, completed 32 tests, and saw a max of 73C only for a brief spike, the average temps under load were around 64C.

  • 39 months ago
  • 1 point

nice! I was getting like 78-79°C after an hour of encoding on the stock cooler .

cheers

  • 39 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, I wouldn't use a stock cooler unless you are being basic in your tasks. Like streaming video, music, or web-browsing. If you plan to push your CPU after market parts are always better. The 212 EVO is nice, but Cooler Master has a newer model that made some nice modifications to the 212 EVO fin stack. So if you are getting a new tower cooler, and you like the 212 EVO, I would get the 212X. It's not worth it for me already having an EVO, which is still a great product, but for a first time buyer the 212X is worth it for the improvements. If you don't like the price of the 212X the EVO won't let you down. And Push/Pull is preferential. I say 1C average is worth it longer term.

  • 39 months ago
  • 1 point

Got the 212 EVO-R1 from a friend and the temps are crazy low compared to stock 30min video encode and the temps went max to 55-56°C. What an amazing cooler

  • 39 months ago
  • 1 point

The 212 EVO has held its spot as the number one price to performance air cooler for good reason all these years. It has a fin density that can work with high airflow or static pressure fans without worrying about temperature differences that much . So you have more options for fan choices if you want to replace the stock fan. I only chose to replace mine because the Cougar fans offer superior performance which means increased longevity. I could have stayed stock, but why not make a good tower even better?

[comment deleted]
  • 41 months ago
  • -2 points

you have should get a intel i5 4570k

  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

I will pass on that part, I like what I chose for the reason I chose.

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

Ok

[comment deleted]
  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

For the price it really can't be beat in the listed applications. An equivalent i7 is about US$100 more and an i5 will sit at a similar clock speed but no hyperthreading or real long term usability. The Xeon is a budget non-k i7 and built to last.

  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

Absolutely correct, thank for you repeatedly explaining the benefits of the Xeon.

[comment deleted]
  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

Sort of OC'd, not exactly the same way as the unlocked multiplier K chips and even then only on specific boards with specific BIOS'. Intel dos not support OC on these chips and an early heat death could quickly turn into a broken warranty if there is any evidence you tried to OC via BCLK or similar. And even then you can do that with a Xeon if you wanted and still save the $100 for a 1070 or better.

The OC that is available for non-k skylake chips is sketchy even on tested boards. A xeon is still an insane deal over a locked i7 especially if you are doing anything other than gaming. At this point if you won't OC a LGA1150 Xeon is better than an i5 and if you are only gaming and want to OC you could go AMD for less.

[comment deleted by staff]
  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

Thank you.