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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.