Description

Silent and deadly.

A project build designed for heavy lifting for 360 video / VR content production . A quiet 4K video and VFX rendering beast with the potential for future expandability. Based on specs I'm aiming to initially overclock the CPU to a modest 4.2 GHz, the 32GB of memory to a baseline 2666 MHz and start off the GPU with the overclock settings from the Zotac 1080 AMP! Extreme.

With the aim of balancing this performance with heat and noise management, I've decided to go with an air-cooled system rather than liquid-cooled. A few considerations came into this: 1) the operating environment isn't all that warm, 2) we're doing video editing in an edit suite so noise needs to be kept at a minimum, 3) Less potential problems during installation and operation, 4) Easy to replace parts with better lifespan, and 5) We can always upgrade as needed. It was also less expensive, so that we could put the money to performance components. With that in mind, we also opted to spend the extra money on a more powerful PSU (we figured that 850W for our system that is non-OC rated at 550W will give us more than enough overhead for the OC when it kicks in) and a UPS to be sure that everything stays safe and sound (our studio is located in an old warehouse loft, so we've had our share of power disruptions despite being above a lighting store).

Basically every part of this build has been designed for quiet operation with overclocked settings (which we will probably have running over-night and hours at a time). That said, we picked components that were all rated to be very quiet and picked the R5 for our case because of it's legendary modularity and quiet operation. The size of the case also allows us to expand the system a fair bit with additional hard-drives as needed .

Since the MSI X99S SLI Plus can support up to 10 SATA connections, I'm aiming for a 256GB 960 pro M.2 SSD for the OS and then build the primary drives with more budget SSDs (Samsung 850 Evo 500GBs). A secondary drive for writing and archiving will be a 3TB RAID 1 made up of 2x Seagate 3TB Barracudas. Additionally, there will be a SSD dock, and a Blu-Ray Read/Write to the case. This leaves us with 2 remaining SATA ports for built-in archive drives. Since we're primarily going to be working off of the SSDs there really isn't any need for these drives to be in a RAID configuration. In fact most of our archives for finished projects will be stored externally so I hope that we can just remove drive trays completely or mod the case so that we can can maximize air-flow.

An understated function of this case that we're extremely happy about, is that it also has a 3-speed fan control build-into the case. I'm definitely going play around with the configuration of the system to maximize air-flow, but it's also a great feature to be able to be able to take it to level 11 with a single switch when we need that extra cooling irregardless of the fan curves. (the case comes with 2x 140mm fans, so I picked up a couple more for this purpose - 2x 140mm Hyperborea to keep everything flowing and quiet)

At the end of the day, we were able to cram all this into this system and keep things just under our $3K budget by shopping around on Black Friday / Cyber Monday ( thx PCPartpicker) and by Frankensteining some components from my older PC. Costs not included in this that should be mentioned is the software. We currently run everything on MACs so switching things to a Windows environment means we need to get PC licenses for a hand-full of the software we use (particularly plug-ins and extensions)

PERFORMANCE

We want to push it to a reasonable OC but the system needs to be rock solid: without any stability issues. Since I have my other computer (Retina MacBook) that I'll be using to work on 90% of the time, this one will be primarily working in the dark, over-night, etc, so I would gladly take an OC hit just to be sure that everything is working without any down-time: that 5% performance gain isn't worth it if my 8hr render crashes and I have to start over.

That said I've been able to get a good CPU OC at a very reasonable temperature thanks to the massive Dark Rock Pro 3

CPU: Intel i7 6800K 6 Core 3.4GHz Core multiplier: 42x: 4.2 GHz Clock speed Core voltage: 1.2700 V Core cache speed: 30x: 3.00 GHz Idle temp: 39-40 C Active temp: 51 C (at 25% CPU utilization) Max temp: 60 C Idle TDP: 36.5 W Max TDP: 100 W 32GB (4x 8GB) Memory DDR4 OC: 2666 MHz

The GPU comes overclocked by default and having run it through the paces with Uniengine's Heaven benchmark, it performs incredibly well so I've left it as-is:

GTX 1080 Zotac AMP! Extreme GPU: 2075 MHz Memory: 5405 MHz Temperature: 67-72 C (avrg 70 C) FPS: 117.3 Unengine Heaven Benchmark score: 2955

In terms of stability, I've put the system through some overnight renders as a test, and so far no problems to speak of.

All said and done, even before optimizing things from the software side, the hardware upgrade has improved our render times from my top-end Retina MacBook Pro (mid 2015) with 32GB memory by a factor of 4-5x. So what was before a 5:12 render is now done in about a 1:30 .

I'm also pretty sure that I can still push the system performance since I've noticed in my render tests that I haven't been able to max out my CPU's resources.

All said and done, incredibly happy for a first build...
Finally a good ending to 2016.

Part Reviews

CPU Cooler

Big, black, and beautiful. Incredibly silent, looks fantastic in the case, and keeps everything super cool. Other reviews said how this was complicated to put together, how it was a 2-man job. I didn't find it difficult at all. Just followed the instructions, took my time, and bent the rachet key (photo coming soon) so that it could reach around and underneath the cooler to tighten the bolts. It took maybe 10 mins. Massive, Badass, and Oh So Quiet.

Motherboard

Great little mobo with everything I needed to achieve my OC goals. Lots of expandability and the black color looks great. Has lots of ports and fits everything perfectly. The only possible issue is that the enormous size of my Zotac AMP! Extreme GTX 1080 graphic card hides the M.2 slot and may cause some heating issues down the road on those long render nights. I'll have to monitor that one. Worst case we'll have to move the graphics card to the PCI slot closer to the CPU. The reason I've left it where it is now is so that we can get more air-flow to the CPU. Just note that if you use the M2 slot, you lose SATA 5+6 and SATA9+10 are NOT RAID compatible.

Video Card

Best and baddest GTX 1080 money can buy. But damn if it isn't huge. It weighs a ton and in the R5 case, it blocks you from installing a drive bay in the middle of the case. Due to it's size, I also don't think you'd be able to reasonably set up an SLI config on the motherboard as it effectively takes up 3 PCI lanes in width. It also blocks access to the mobo's SATA ports so I had to uninstall and re-install the card each time I needed to re-route my SATA cables/connections. Also, there's definitely the problem of GPU sag. To get around this, once I had everything built and in place, I used some fishing line to tie the over-hanging end of the GPU to the 5.25 bracket above. This seems to help and so far no problems with the heat the card never gets hotter than 72 degrees celcius.

Case

Building in this case was pure bliss. All you need is a screwdriver, and even then only about 30% of the time. Lots of room to build in, fantastic cable management, and so quiet that when I turned on the PC for the first time, I didn't even hear it. I'm convinced that I only hear it now because I'm looking at it. I love the minimalist design, the modularity, and after all that's said and done, the fantastic air-flow it gets even with the dust filters in place and all the doors closed. The two fans that come with it are super silent and have sold me on the idea of white coloured fans.

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Comments

  • 37 months ago
  • 4 points

That gpu sag hurts my insides.

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

I know right?!

I ended up threading some fishing line to tie the sagging end to tie it to the 5.25" drive bracket for support as a temporary solution until I can put a support bracket in there.

I'll post a photo of the new setup next week.

  • 37 months ago
  • 2 points

Did you have problems with the BIOS update with the MSI X99A SLI PLUS ATX LGA2011-3 Motherboard? I have read that the motherboard might need a BIOS update before installation of the I7-6800k, which would require a second cpu to perform the update. Just wondering if that happened with this build. Thanks!

  • 37 months ago
  • 2 points

I didn't have any problems with the motherboard out of the box at all, the BIOS was already setup with the latest version and so when I switched it on everything checked out. I used MSI's updater just in case afterwards but it wasn't really necessary. I think the reported issues out there were probably with earlier releases that never got the updated BIOS by default. Pretty sure that if you buy it relatively new it won't be a problem.

  • 37 months ago
  • 2 points

Awesome, thank you!

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

Sweet build man and an awesome description +1.

If you're worried about the m.2 heating up too much, you should place a fan on the bottom as intake, you could even put two seeing the amount of space you have there.

  • 37 months ago
  • 2 points

Yeah I ended up adding two Rosewill Hyperborea 140mm fans to the front panel and moving the original fan that came with the case to the bottom next to the power supply. The empty space up front is now occupied by the 3.25" drive bays. Lots of airflow and a bit more noise (I'll have to reset my fan curves to optimize this). But in the end, I was able to get the ambient and active temps down by almost 5 C with the extra airflow. I'm pretty sure that the M.2 should be OK but I'm keeping a close eye on it. I'll add updated photos next week.

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

Alright man, sounds good.

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

That GPU is massive!

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

Almost an understatement. It's crazy heavy too!

  • 36 months ago
  • 1 point

Hey so I saw your review about the AMP! Extreme GTX 1080, Specifically about the SLI Part of it, I'd recommend a wider and more spacey kind of case like the NXZT S340 Elite/NZXT S340. You will have more space for SLI than your current case. Hope I helped and good luck!

  • 34 months ago
  • 1 point

Do the Ripjaw V fit under the cooler fan no problem? Or did you have to raise the fan on the cooler?

  • 33 months ago
  • 1 point

It fits no problem at all

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  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

See my reply to the first comment. I rigged up some suspension support and it seems to be ok for now. It's a decent temporary solution until I can get a backet in there.