Wireless & WOL
Zero Noise Control Strategy
This is a £2K workstation specification for VR development and demonstration back home. It was drafted few months ago and has finalized building recently to achieve non-compromising noise, temperature and performance. As a lot of studies have been done throughout the process, I thought some of my experience could be beneficial for people have/will have similar situations as me. If you have any question, please feel free to ask.
2. Parts Justification
VR requires a decent CPU GPU combination in order to deliver best performance as obviously people don't want to throw up half-way. It normally creates a heavy CPU load onto maximum 4 cores, thus high frequency overclocking (4.6GHz will be fine) is a essential instead of 6/8 cores. 5820K or 5960X definitely perform better in development, however with X99 that's slightly over budget.
As stated previously, noise and temperature are my major concerns as cooling and thermal are usually not friends. I ended up very satisfying with 6700k - not only due to the overclocking stability, but also the thermal performance with H100i GTX. With default frequency, it runs on 18℃ while completely idle, 23℃ while light use such as web browsing, and 50℃ while under 100% stress. There will be a 5℃ increment while overclocking to 4.6GHz.
Though 970 is the official minimum recommendation, from my experience in the industry you will need at least 980 Ti or Titan X, as 970 is just simply not enough (3.5G + 0.5G would be very awkward). The reason SLI is being used here is because VR SLI is essential in my works, however if you have no such needs I would recommend stay with single GPU, as SLI usually brings extra cost on PSU, motherboard, cooling and creates other compatibility issues.
There are two reasons I didn't go with 2x Titan X - FOA, they are way too expensive, with having very minor performance difference comparing to 980 Ti overclocked, regardless the 12GB VRAM which in my works I have never requires that much. Second, all Titan X on market are reference design which uses turbine intake for cooling. This method will be very useful towards compact SLI configuration in a narrow space, however it creates decent noise as well.
For 980 Ti, EVGA 06G-P4-4995 and Asus DC3OC are on my mind in the first place. Their fan won't start rotating until GPU reaches 55℃ or 60℃ - this means total silence 80% of the time. I ended up with EVGA 4995 simply because I have got them £100 cheaper each than Asus DC3OC. Another thing would be good to mention is that EVGA has a global warranty while Asus doesn't - this could be easier to re-purpose these cards overseas in the future.
Thermaltake Suppressor F51 (no window) is currently the best (not one of the best) chassis I found in terms of acoustic performance. Personally I wouldn't say this is the copycat version of Fractal Design R5 as F51 is more like a further developed R5 within same price range. The expansion capability is massive as you could place whatever cooling system you need within it.
Overall I am very satisfied from acoustic point of view, as when system was set to silent mode, there is literally no noise at all.
For details you could check this review which I found very useful: http://www.kitguru.net/components/cases/leo-waldock/thermaltake-suppressor-f51-and-water-3-0-ultimate/
For cooling system compatibility, you could check page 12 and 13 of the manual here: http://www.thermaltake.com/Chassis/Mid_Tower_/Suppressor/C_00002676/F51_No_Window/Support.htm
I was under impression that at least 1000W PSU is essential for 2x 980Ti SLI configuration for a long time. Then I found out, with overclocking CPU to 4.6GHz and without further overclocking GPU, total power consumption never go above 600W, normally would be around 550W. This proves that 850W or even 750W would definitely be sufficient for such specification.
For RM1000i I am quite happy as name ending with "i" is able to be integrated into Corsair Link to monitor temperature and fans RPM in real-time. While system under full load, the PSU temperature will stay at 36℃ maximum with 0 RPM - this not only means zero noise, but also help to maintain PSU inside to be clean.
The only con is cables supplied with PSU are extremely thick and hard to bend, when comparing Corsair 8+8 cable against cables supplied by EVGA, I doubt the Corsair cable has a larger cross section area.
2.5 Cooling and Fans
I feel slightly regret that initially I didn't realized it's possible to install 280mm radiator at front, therefore I didn't go with H115i at first place. Good thing by using 280mm radiators are that 4x140mm fan (2 with radiator, 1 at rear and 1 at side can easily achieve equivalent airflow. Meanwhile H100i is still a decent product, I would probably recycle/relocate H100i with a H115i replacement or equivalent 280mm radiator later some point.
In terms of fans, Noctua IPPC series are confirmed to be best in the market. They are the higher RPM version of conventional Noctua fans with higher static pressure and airflow which brings more cooling flexibility when whole system is under full load while still maintain low noise level. Fans also came with black color as I would like the color to be consistent. If you are interested in getting Noctua fans in black color but doesn't require high RPM, I would recommend to take a look of the "Linus Edition" from Noctua (see below).
There are also 3000RPM IPPC version available with insane static pressure and airflow, but I would recommend check some noise review first as 3000RPM can be extremely noisy. Though I like Corsair brand very much, but neither SP120 nor SP140 are anywhere near Noctua's performance.
Airflow Review of Noctua NF-F12: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5I_SilNSqo
Linus's Review on Noctua IPPC series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ME4vUO2T-48
Noctua Linus Edition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CY5CZHsiwe8
2.6 Motherboard, RAM & SSD
I state them here because there are not much to talk about. Z170 Pro Gaming was my choice initially but ended on M8R as same price, plus M8R/M8G/M8H are relatively the same.
For RAM I am a bit shamed that didn't go with 2x16G or 4x16G at first as now slots are filled with 4x8G. However this is an issue easy to solve and 32G is pretty much enough for the work I am doing at home - this doesn't not necessary to be able to compete my workstation at office.
In terms of SSD, as I have a HP Gen8 at home and this build is for working only, 500G will be sufficient at this stage. For future expansion a 500G M2 PCIE probably would be good.
3. Wireless & WOL
Gigabyte GC-WB867D-I is my initial wireless solution, however after 2x 980 Ti SLI are installed, the space become quite tight and I don't want to squeeze it in due to the high temperature generated from graphics. In addition, WOL (Wake-on-LAN) is an essential function to me, therefore what I do is connect Ethernet cable from my small router E3200 to the PC, then create wireless ethernet bridge from my small router to main router EA6700 via 5Ghz (as 2.4Ghz creates interference while under heavy traffic), both running tomato.
This enables me to wake the PC whenever wherever I need, with limiting the package delay within 2ms from PC to main router.
4. Zero Noise Control Strategy
Unlike normal Noctua fans, the RPM of IPPC series all start with 500RPM according to its datasheet. However, when you plug the fan into CHA_FAN header, motherboard shows that the lowest RPM would be around 900 RPM (±5%). 2x 140mm fans running on 900RPM will create noticeable airflow noise, especially the side fan.
Resistance cable is normally used to reduce RPM range, however it will eliminate the value of procurement of high RPM fans. Meanwhile, the 2x 120mm fan attached to radiator is totally silent while running on 900 RPM as minimum (balance mode RPM of SP120L). Therefore to create a zero noise environment, just connect 2 chassis fan to H100i and connect 2 radiator fan to CHA_FAN header.
This will allow all the fan working in a much wider range (400 RPM to 2000 RPM) with the help from Asus software. You won't hear anything with 900 RPM radiator fan and 420 RPM side and rear fan. You will start to notice until radiator fan reaches 1200 RPM or chasiss fan reaches 700 RPM, but even that noise is minor and totally acceptable.
Overall I think this is a well-balanced configuration in terms of noise and performance under £2K budget. Eventually I have made it under £1.8K with resourcing individually. There are some regrets along the way but nothing major with all of them can be solved afterwards at some point.
Again if you have any question/comment please feel free to ask!