Etymology (instead of an intro)
“Deep” because this computer was built in Shenzhen, China. “Shen” (深) in the name of the city means “deep”.
“Dragon” because it is meant to be powerful and versatile, like a Chinese dragon :) Moreover, it was built using parts of well known brands of Taiwan (Gigabyte, MSI, SilverStone) and Mainland China (DeepCool, Rapoo). Other brands here are American (Intel, Corsair, Seagate), South Korean (Samsung) and Swedish (Fractal Design). So my Chinese dragon has some Scandinavian dragon hints in it, as well as blood of American bisons :)
I believe, all the Mainland Chinese parts in this build are produced locally in Shenzhen. The case might be produced in neighboring Dongguan.
Case. This computer was built far away from my home country. Therefore I needed some compact form factor for relatively easy transportation in case I want to take it elsewhere on a plane. I preferred miniITX and chose Define Nano S because of the great looks, features (air filters, noise isolation, cable management) and high rating on PCPartsPicker. Moreover, I wanted the case to be not limiting to a video card size.
However, I was a bit disappointed when the case arrived. It is much bigger than I expected (though, still an improvement over the bulky and heavy Corsair 380T that I considered initially).
CPU. I chose i5 8600K because I really need a powerful CPU for data crunching and photo processing, but I didn't want to spend extra $100 for the multithreaded i7 8700K. And I'm glad with my choice so far.
Mobo. Since I need this PC particularly for deep learning, I wanted my chipset to support at least 16 PCIe lanes. That's why I chose Z370.
Then, as the Asus ROG motherboard seemed to be very overpriced here, I wanted to buy something simpler. I was considering most basic miniITX mobo with Z370 chipset, which was ASRock, but a great review on YouTube convinced me to go extra buck for the Gigabyte motherboard. The reasons are that it has better overclocking features, better sound, two M.2 sockets instead of one and a USB-C.
That seemed to be the optimal choice, especially because I respect Gigabyte for good quality products without excessive flashiness of Asus.
CPU cooler. This was a hard choice between cheap, effective and safe air cooling, and expensive, flashy and dangerous liquid cooling. Irrational side of me won.
I chose DeepCool Captain EX 240 RGB because it's compatible with Gigabyte's Fusion lightning out of the box. And I love LEDs :-P
I bought this from official DeepCool store in the famous SEG Plaza at Huaqiangbei electronics market. Incidentally, this is the only store in all of Huaqiangbei that I would recommend over buying online (TaoBao, JD.com) or in Hong Kong.
PSU. Since I didn't want to use ATX-sized power supply, as it would leave very little breathing space for a video card or limit it to only blower type cooling, I was choosing between two SFX-sized PSUs: SilverStone SX600-G and Corsair SF600. I chose SilverStone solely because it was Taiwanese. Only later did I find out from Jonny Guru that SilverStone, at least initially, performed slightly worse than Corsair. But, as my PSU has “V1.1” sticker on it, I am curious if that is still the case.
Video card. This was the toughest choice because of the crazy prices. This was also the reason why I chose to build a computer that would not be very limiting to GPU size and configuration.
Initially, I was considering to buy a GTX 1080 Ti cards from Zotac, Gigabyte, Inno3D or 影驰 (aka Galax or Galaxy). The latter one (EXOC edition) had a relatively good price in China since it is produced locally, but I decided not to buy it as soon as I learned that its temperatures are pretty high even though the fans are constantly on. Moreover, the lights on that card are orangy red, and that color just doesn't follow my esthetic tastes.
I considered Gigabyte GTX 1080 Ti GAMING, as it had the right size, but the card seems to be less reliable than Zotac, MSI or EVGA based on reviews on Newegg. Moreover it seems to have coil whining quite frequently. And it doesn't even include a backplate.
Ultimately, I decided to buy any open-air 1080 Ti card that would fit in my case, that is not Gigabyte, Galax, Inno3D or Asus. But since I still hoped to find a reasonably priced Zotac card, I went to their official dealer in Hong Kong first. However, they just directed me to a nearby electronics market :) And it just so happened that the cheapest good quality video card there was the one from MSI. (This one is GAMING version, however, which is less factory-overclocked than GAMING X.)
Case fans. Initially I bought a set of ID-COOLING fans, but they turned out to be so horribly bad, as to have a noticeable vibration. So I went back to the official DeepCool store and picked up a set of their fans.
Monitor. I use Haier H32E07 LCD TV as my monitor, as I have it in my apartment. Unfortunately, it chops away a few millimeters on each side and there seems to be no fix.
At first I did “lazy” overclocking by setting “CPU Upgrade” feature of Gigabyte's UEFI to “i5 8600K @ 4.7 GHz” and tried to run the computer. Everything worked nicely except Prime95's Torture Test with Small FFTs: it would occasionally produce an error, and that was not acceptable to me! It would work reliably at 4.5 GHz though.
Then I learned from another build that the reason for instability of the Small FFTs test were the power-hungry AVX instructions. I also learned that even with stable Small FFTs test, my computer would crash on Prime95 after trying to run a Torture Test with large FFTs.
After some tweaking I found a seemingly stable configuration, but it crashed one worker in Prime95 as soon as I disabled AVX and AVX2 instructions in Prime95!
Ultimately, my CPU overclocking settings are:
- XMP = Profile1 (FFT throughput increased by 30% in Prime95 benchmarking from this change alone!)
- Smart Fan = Full Speed
- CPU Upgrade = i5 8600K @ 4.7 GHz
- CPU clock multiplier = 50
- CPU Vcore = 1.35V
- AVX offset = 8 (that is -800 MHz when using AVX instructions)
- Intel Turbo Boost = Disabled
- Intel Speed Shift = Disabled
I'm sure, this can be further improved, as the speed rarely goes much above 4.5 GHz with these settings (as shown by i7z utility), but I don't want to spend much time on this.
CPU temperatures with the Prime95's Torture Test with 6 workers (in-place) are:
|FFT size||AVX?||Temp, °C|
GPU temperature doesn't go above 74 °C while running mfaktc.
If I were to build this computer again, I would probably use a CPU with AVX-512 instructions, like i7-7800X.
Constantly works at >4.2 GHz in my machine.
Feels like a high quality product! Very well thought out and careful to details, the instructions are easy to understand.
I think, this is my third Gigabyte motherboard. I appreciate their high quality without the excesses of Asus. Simple, full-featured, professional. Overclocking 8600K was fun.
Enabling XMP profile increased productivity of some applications by 30% to my surprise! (I wish I had bought RGB version, though, to align with Gigabyte's Fusion lightning.)
It was the cheapest choice for the 1080 Ti chip among reliable video cards. A bit faster than Founders Edition, but less overclocked than GAMING X edition from MSI. Since I load it 100% pretty much all the time, I appreciate that it's not too noisy for its power and keeps the GPU temperature under 75 °C. And those red accents look surprisingly good in my Nano S case with RGB Fusion lightning!
A bit overrated case. I paid a premium price here in China for this “Swedish” design just to learn that it was made in neighboring Dongguan. And the quality is not very Scandinavian. Especially the window: the plastic glass is so soft, you can literally scratch it with a napkin! But I must admit: this case made my first build easy.
The “manual” on SilverStone website is not really a manual. And the real paper copy of the manual was not very helpful either (regarding my 8+8 pin video card). I also hope this “V1.1“ PSU, that I got, has improved performance compared to the first version, which was slightly inferior to Corsair it seems.
I picked these up after I liked the DeepCool CPU cooler so much. Good silent fans. Work well with RGB Fusion.
These are very cheapish and unbalanced. They cause vibration. I had to buy another set of fans.
I bought these in a nearby computer store and I LOVE the keyboard! I haven't figured out why, but this keyboard is actually easier to type with than keyboards of my two favorite laptops. And it's also very lean.