Description

I built this machine for graphics and video editing. I still need to get some better pictures up, bear with me.

I wanted something with the most robust chip I could afford, enough RAM so that I would never have to worry about running out, completely robust, reliable, durable components that would stand the test of time, and handles to carry it with, since I move it around a lot for work. I went for the 6-Core since I'm doing a ton of multitasking, and have loads of processor intensive programs open all the time. Also, all those extra cores help with rendering, not only with videos but complex 3D scenes as well. That said, reliability is a bigger deal to me than scratching for every last microsecond, so I generally opt not to overclock - which means I saved the money and went for a high quality air cooler rather than a liquid cooling solution.

Another big goal of mine was to completely eliminate the hard drive bottle-neck, and so far that has worked out swimmingly. I'm jumping in and out of a half-dozen Adobe Creative Cloud programs pretty much perpetually throughout my workday, so I set this up with a dedicated program drive in addition to a dedicated boot drive. I'm booting from the Kingston Predator SSD, since it's easily boot-able, and generally touted as being one of the most reliable and easiest to use for that at purpose. The SM951 M.2 (technically the faster drive) holds all of my hero programs and also whatever project is hot on the table. I also use it as a render drive. None of those files stay on there for long (I try and keep it at least two-thirds empty), but it helps me get those extra minutes back having that drive as the leading duck in my flying V. Then I've got the Sandisk Extreme Pro as a dedicated scratch disk so make sure my preview files and scratch files aren't clogging up the works with the other two or getting bogged down in the spinning hard disks. The two Caviar Blacks I had arranged in a Mirrored RAID for safe archiving.

My biggest question mark left hanging over my head is whether I made the right choice in going for a high-end GTX card versus a low-end Quadro. I wanted the extra power without the extra cost. At the time I did not expect to own a 10-bit display, although I now do, so that wasn't an issue. After a lot of research, I felt pretty comfortable that the GTX would interface with the Adobe programs without too much trouble, and actually it was easier than I expected to get each program to recognize it and start utilizing it. All that said, while watching my GPU loads in Open Hardware monitor as I execute supposedly GPU-heavy tasks in Premiere, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc, I haven't seen the load on the GPU jump much past 15-20%. This makes me wonder if the trade-off was worth it.

And it was a trade off in one very picky situation: there is one substantial glitch with this GTX 980 Ti in Adobe Illustrator. When I lay a raster effect onto an object in Illustrator, it works fine, but as soon as I move that raster effect to the stroke or the fill of the object, the program crashes and I get sent to EVGA's support website. If I disable the GPU in Illustrator, the same action can be executed with no problem, but then the whole program slows down for lack of hardware acceleration. Like I said, one very picky situation. Otherwise, the card works great.

Anyways, that aside, this has been a really fun build to put together, and so far with that one hiccup aside, it's been working great. Building with the Corsair C70 is, of course, a joy. The whole theme of this machine was Solid, Strong, Durable and Robust, so that was a no-brainer. I named her Valentina after the first woman in space.

Part Reviews

CPU

I knew I wanted a 6-Core i7, so it was between this and the 5820K. I had a little extra money to burn for once in my life, so I figured I'd get the added expand-ability of the extra lanes, and a little more speed. So far it's a total boss. Aftereffects compositions that used to take 45 minutes to render on my old Lynnfield i5 now finish in 3 minutes.

CPU Cooler

Totally incredible. This thing feels more like a car-part than a computer part. Completely solid and reliable. At full load my i7-5930K has yet to reach 60 degrees C, as compared to a pretty common place 80-90 degrees on my last machine.

For all the talk about the size, I had no problem fitting this into my machine. Installation was super easy. It has high clearance so that you don't have to worry about clearing the RAM, but that didn't even end up being an issue. With the way my ASUS X99-A is configured there's actually no overlap.

Also this fan is very quiet, which is nice. Great product all around.

However, I should also mention that it is rather ugly. I really wish Noctua would just pony up for at last ONE other color option, so it doesn't look like you have a part from 1992 in your machine.

Motherboard

I don't overclock, and my needs are relatively simple, so I didn't see the need to get a crazy deluxe board with all sorts of extra fluff. I wanted expand-ability to USB 3.1, and more importantly, to Thunderbolt. I really wanted the M.2 slot, so that's awesome.

So far this board is completely stable and reliable. Setup was super easy. I don't tweak a ton, but if I did the BIOS looked really straight-forward and intuitive for that sort of thing.

I would echo some people's complaints about not enough fan headers, and the few that there are being awkwardly placed. I could have used like two more at least. I'm probably going to have to get a fan controller.

Another complaint is that only 3 of the 4 PCIe x16 slots support PCIe 3.0. Just through the way everything worked out with my build and all the other components I'm including, that second x16 slot from the top would have been the best place for my GTX 980 Ti, but that was PCIe 2.0 only on this board. Even if there is some greater technical constraint keeping them from having all four x16 slots at PCIe 3.0 rather than 2.0, I feel like they would be better served putting the 2.0-only slot as the 3rd from the top, rather than 2nd. That way, since most double-slot graphics cards have their connections along the top, the bulk of the card would hang down, covering the 2.0 slot, rather than having the 3.0 slot wasted.

Storage

I use this as a dedicated scratch disk. It's awesome and cheap. Get it.

Storage

This thing is amazing. I use it as a boot drive. It was super easy to set up for that purpose, and my boot up time is almost negligible at this point. Definitely keep it mostly empty, though. That will make sure it stays blazing fast.

Also a note on durability: I actually dropped this piece right onto the floor as I was assembling the computer. I almost had a conniption fit, but was able to stay calm enough to put everything together anyways to see if it still worked. No issues whatsoever. Obviously you should be a lot more careful than I was being, and I do not recommend dropping this or any other part, but I think that does speak to the build quality that Kingston has put into this.

Video Card

I bought this card after I found that it matched up on a bunch of charts and stuff I found on various forums as being a good balanced match for my CPU. I use it for graphics and video editing, and so far it has been a champ, except for one glitch in Illustrator: when I put a raster effect onto an object (drop shadow etc) it works fine, but when I apply that effect specifically to the stroke or the fill of the object I get a crash and it sends me to the EVGA website. Not sure what the deal is. If anyone from Adobe or EVGA is out there reading this, I'm all ears for solutions. I will say, of course, this thing tears through games like crazy, but maybe I'm questioning my decision to go with a GTX over a workstation solution like a Quadro - even though a Quadro of comparable stats would be way outside my budget. It seems like Adobe's support of GTX cards has been an evolving story recently, so maybe there will be some software/firmware/driver updates that fix this issue. Fingers crossed.

Case

If you're going for a super practical, robust, solid solution with a bit of a mad-scientist vibe, this is it. The real hero here is the cable management, but the handles and the latches for the side panels are also a really incredible innovation. All the bays are removable, so you can customize. Everything is made of steel, so as you're building you really feel like you're working on something permanent, and aren't just throwing money into electronics but are investing in serious equipment. Some mac people might look down on the DIY, diesel-punk style, but that's not you, otherwise you wouldn't be looking at this product.

Comments

  • 48 months ago
  • 4 points

Cool build. Good luck fending off the people that are going to tell you that you don't need that much RAM.

  • 48 months ago
  • 3 points

Love the name! Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman into space. Awesome computer too!

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

Wow, I gotta, say I didn't think anyone would catch the reference. Thanks!

  • 48 months ago
  • 3 points

Rock solid workstation, great choices with the cooler and SSD's.

As someone already mentioned you will probably get comments that much ram is unnecessary, a lot of these kids just play fallout and have no understanding of the demands placed on a system running the Adobe suite in a working environment..

Plus one all day long.

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! Yeah especially in the more complex aftereffects projects I'm finding I do end up using more than 32GB on occasion.

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

Exactly! Only getting 16 was my biggest mistake, but that was early when DDR4 prices were really high, and also moving from an older much less powerful platform the workflow was far more limited and it seemed at the time you would struggle to utilize as much... Bring out a 6 core CPU and fast storage these things change!

  • 48 months ago
  • 1 point

Pls moar pics!

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

Looks like quite an amazing machine you have here. 64 gb is a lot of ram though, although it could be useful in a rendering environment.

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

Whoops. Failed to read the comment regarding the occasional >32 gb ram usage spikes in P.S lol.

  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

Hey I'm thinking of using that Kingston predator ssd but from the pictures it looks like pretty much just an adapter for motherboards that don't have m.2 slots with a m.2 ssd included? By the way this build looks awesome

  • 28 months ago
  • 1 point

Are you still experiencing the Illustrator crash?