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Xeon/970 Architecture and Rendering Build

by olvrjck


Part List View full price breakdown


Date Published

April 18, 2015

Date Built

April 18, 2015

CPU Clock Rate

3.4 GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

28.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.114 GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

7.01 GHz

GPU Temperature While Idle

31.0° C


I'm studying Architecture and needed a new machine to run Blender, 3Ds MAX, AutoCAD and photoshop…turned out pretty sweet!

The build went together surprisingly well considering it was my first. I put a lot of time into researching components to ensure I would have no issues. Had a slight problem when installing the motherboard in that the I/O panel would not quite line up with the motherboard however it lined up well enough to use all the ports so that's good enough! Hard to beat the feeling of turning it on for the first time and seeing the BIOS screen appear!

CPU: Intel Xeon E3 1231 v3 - Could not be happier with this chip, everything I’ve tested so far runs super fast with no issues. I was initially looking at various i7’s but since I knew I would be getting a GPU (didn’t need i7 integrated graphics) and don't plan on overclocking (wanted a nice stable build without any hassle) the Xeon seemed to be the perfect choice. Would definitely recommend it to anyone who doesn't plan on OCing, saves you a good £70 to spend on other parts.

CPU Cooler: Phanteks PH-TC12DX - This was probably the biggest surprise of all the boxes I opened, it just feels amazing! The build quality is absolutely fantastic! Its keeps the CPU idle at about 28C, going up to about 35C under load (would probably go higher under max load but haven't had a chance to really push it yet). Cannot hear it at all over the sound of the case fans.

RAM: Kingston Fury White 16GB - Chose this mainly because of its colour. Works absolutely fine and looks great! 16gb should be enough to have Photoshop, AutoCAD and Blender running nice and smooth together.

Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB (x2 in RAID) and Samsung 840 EVO 120GB - Both chosen based on good reviews. Using the SSD as a boot drive and install drive for all my software and the HDD for general storage. Put two of them in RAID for peace of mind as loosing a whole architecture project the night before the deadline is the stuff of nightmares.

GPU: ASUS Strix GTX 970 - I use Blender for the majority of my rendering and therefore needed an Nvidia card. As a student I couldn't quite justify splashing out on a 980 or titan card so I went for the 970. There seemed to be relatively little difference between the different brands of 970 so I ended up going for the ASUS Strix purely for the backplate and cooler design. So far its performed amazingly, rendering scenes so much faster than my old MacBook and generally running the whole program much more smoothly. Scored about 9800 on Firestrike Extreme (I am happy to run it again if anyone wants to know an exact figure!) Temps seem to stay fairly low, even during rendering, so the fans are barely ever running which keeps the whole thing nice and silent. Had a quick go on Bioshock Infinite which looked absolutely stunning!

Motherboard: ASUS Z97-AR - This may seem like an odd choice considering the Z97 series are made for OCing however I wanted the option to SLI in future so opted for this over the H97 series. Went for the AR edition simply because it is the only one that doesn't come in that horrible gold and brown colour combination. Very happy so far, BIOS was a breeze, plenty of ports and connectors for fans etc and the black and silver colours work lovely with the rest of the components.

Case: Corsair Air 540 - Completely fell in love with this case as soon as I saw it. Did consider trying to squeeze everything into the Air 240 but decided it wasn't worth the sacrifices I would have to make regarding GPU and cooler sizes. Cable management and installation was so easy with so much space to work. The stock fans do the job but are by far the noisiest part of the system. Only other gripe was the lack of top fan filter.

PSU: Seasonic M12ii 620W Bronze EVO Edition - Was initially going to get a cheap corsair PSU but after reading lots people advising against saving money on the PSU I went for this Seasonic as it seemed to be a trusted brand. No complaints, does the job and does it well! The included cables were okay but I added some white braided cable extensions to match the rest of the build. I also purchased an APC SurgeArrest for peace of mind and for the insurance they offer.

Keyboard: Corsair K70 Cherry MX Brown - This was probably the biggest indulgence of the build, but so so worth it. Absolutely love the brown switches, some people say they are too ‘mushy’ but I think they are a perfect balance between tactility and noise.

Mouse: Corsair M45 - Didn't have much of a preference when it came to what sort of mouse I wanted so I got this purely to match the K70. Really happy with it so far, very nice feel and build quality.

Other bits - Picked up some fan filters for the top of the case, some cable combs to keep everything nice and tidy and a wireless card.

Future upgrades:

  1. Swap out the stock fans - they do the job but can get pretty noisy under load (I think they are rated at 27db). Looking for some black/white quiet fans if anyone has any recommendations? Phanteks are probably my first choice at the moment.
  2. Second monitor - Used to working with two monitors (MacBook screen and current monitor as an external display) so am looking out for a matching monitor at a decent price.
  3. SLI - could be a long way in the future but I have left myself the option of adding a second 970 for even faster render times.

Thanks for having a look and helping me out, wouldn't have been possible without this site! Ask me any questions if you have them!

Comments Sorted by:

8kchiadr 3 Builds 4 points 48 months ago

This build is beautiful

this-is-MY-BOOMSTICK 3 points 48 months ago

It's so rare to see the Xeon in a build! In future I'd love to upgrade to that chip (I want to livestream in future, and don't want to overclock), looks wonderful.

10/10 build my friend!

W1nnie101 -4 points 45 months ago

If you are wanting to stream the games that you are playing (I have looked over your profile) I would absolutely NOT recommend a Xeon for gaming, if you HAVE to stick with an Intel you will want an i7 with Hyperthreading.

Streaming requires high CPU load, and an Xeon isnt designed for gaming and may reduce the life of the chip

I would recommend to you an AMD FX-8350 (if you arent comfortable with overclocking, or would like a world record holding overclocking chip) This has 8 cores and with a high clock rate of 4ghz it is good for high quality gaming and streaming those games, it is fairly cheap, and ends up beating the i5-i7s in streaming (ref, TekSyndicate) I really like this chip, and it good for your supposed budget (considering you have an i3 in your current build,

If you have any questions feel free to pm me or to email me, just pm me and I will give you my email,

Cheers, Mitch

Philldog123 2 points 48 months ago

That... Is probably the sexiest build I have ever seen in the entirety of ever. +1 from me man.

loy12mc 2 Builds 1 point 48 months ago

I love this build! Wish I could upvote more than once. Perfect color matching, tidy cable management. Same CPU on my build, no regrets.

olvrjck submitter 1 Build 2 points 48 months ago

Cheers! So happy with the CPU, definitely deserves more attention.

rajmahual 1 point 48 months ago

What size is your monitor? Tn or ips

olvrjck submitter 1 Build 1 point 48 months ago

Current monitor is an 23" IPS. I got it in a really good sale so am waiting for it to go on sale again before I snap up a second one.

rajmahual 1 point 48 months ago

How much u get it for?

olvrjck submitter 1 Build 1 point 48 months ago

£100 in a boxing day sale so i'm waiting for something similar to come along

leonccyiu 1 Build 1 point 48 months ago

try ebay, I got my nec ips full 8 bit for £74

rajmahual 1 point 48 months ago

how much in usd? there is an acer monitor that is pretty cheap at that pricce point. ips and all

W1nnie101 1 point 45 months ago

You will want to just use google, ~156 usd

Woody1999 2 Builds 1 point 48 months ago

Dayum, if only you'd gone for the Krait motherboard. Otherwise an absolutely stunning PC! Any chance of more pictures?

I'm planning my own build around the Krait motherboard...unfortunately using an i3 rather than a Xeon 1231. The Xeon in question is no doubt my favourite Haswell chip, I have no idea why it's so underrated.


Harvey_TM 2 points 48 months ago

tbh, I think the Krait would have too much white. The balance now is perfect.

olvrjck submitter 1 Build 1 point 48 months ago

Thanks, glad you like it!

I did consider the Krait for a while actually. I'll admit it probably would have looked better in the build but the Asus seemed like a better buy in my opinion.

Good luck with the i3! Why not do your own Xeon build?

Woody1999 2 Builds 1 point 48 months ago

Yeah, the Krait board is more for looks than performance, but I still love it nonetheless. As to why I'm not going Xeon, well, mostly budget. Fitting a £200 CPU into a £250 budget for a PC is quite hard, as you can imagine.


jbgetty 1 Build 1 point 48 months ago

Your build is a beaut!

Check out my completed build. I bought a couple fractal white and black, I think r2, fans. Nice and quiet. I only have a 4850 gpu in it but I'm not taxing the Psu so the fan for it hasn't even turned on once. I am so happy with how cool and quiet mine is... but then again I do have a fractal r5. I think I've only noticed it on while over locking and rendering late at night.

so your 970 is good in blender? Are you using cycles?

olvrjck submitter 1 Build 1 point 48 months ago

Your build looks awesome, that screen is amazing!

Yeah I've been really happy with the 970 so far. Obviously its not the fastest but I really think it offers the best price/performance ratio at the moment. It has a relatively high number of CUDA cores and enough memory (despite the 3.5gb controversy) to store complex scenes. Ran a couple of the most recent Cycles Benchmarks and it performed really well. Either way its a massive improvement on CPU rendering with an old i5.

Harvey_TM 1 point 48 months ago

I like that GPU support stick, stealthy yet functional.

bigg_critter 1 Build 1 point 48 months ago

very nice looking, powerful machine my man. Kudos to you +1

kaito1410 3 Builds 1 point 48 months ago

Absolutely stunning, well picked parts. Only possible issue is the 840 evo had some slowdown problems, but it's not a deal breaker in any way.

FGCU_James 4 Builds 1 point 48 months ago

Regarding fans:

If you're dead set on black and/or white fans, I'd go with Corsair SP120 fans.

If you're more concerned w/ performance, and have the extra $$, I'd say go with Noctua. Plain looking they may be, but they are the best fans around.

Cibex 1 point 48 months ago

Absolutely beautiful! +1 I gotta ask which vendor did you use for your extensions?

olvrjck submitter 1 Build 1 point 48 months ago

Cheers! Got the Silverstone extensions from Overclockers UK I think. Really nice quality, bit stiff at first though so you have to force them into shape a bit, which is why I picked up some cable combs aswell.

Hazarded 1 point 48 months ago

OMG I found my twin, My build is for the same

PureBlackFire 1 Build 1 point 48 months ago

this looks great. and in your pics I see the TC12DX with MP120 fans on it.... Phanteks quietly upgraded the fans that come on the cooler it seems.

Katdeskinner 1 point 46 months ago

I'm doing a similar build xeon-1231 v3, Gigabyte GA z97 gaming 5 ATX, Kingston HyperX Fury Blue 16GB DDR3 1866, Evga Geforce GTX 970 4gb SC ACX 2.0 EVGA 600 W80+ Bronze PS Samsung EVo already purchassed, extra internal and External HD...Altec Audio...logitec Extreme 3d Pro for Flight sims....

10075.oo all at Super Bliz Everything below power supply I already Own. Ordered on Father's Day.......waiting..waiting..waiting...

Snotteh 1 Build 1 point 36 months ago

+1 just bought that motherboard and thanks to you for showing how gorgeous it looks in that colour scheme

aighamdi 3 Builds 1 point 36 months ago

because aesthetic. upvote for the perfect job.

Venxer 1 point 1 month ago

instead of buying 2 1tb hardrives you could've bought a 1 2tb hardrive for $50-55

Corbindalllas 0 points 48 months ago

build quality

[comment deleted by staff]
olvrjck submitter 1 Build 1 point 48 months ago

Thanks alot! The K70 is amazing, took a bit of getting used to but I would definitely recommend it. Glad I went for the brown switches aswell, really nice middle ground.