The making of Damagebox 2011

I’ll admit to being like the proverbial plumber with a leaky sink. When it comes to my own primary personal computer, I’ve been borderline neglectful for a little while now. The problem isn’t really the hardware, exactly. You see, way back before Windows 7 came out, I ordered an upgrade version of Win7 Pro for 50 bucks. Seemed like a deal, and Vista wasn’t exactly thrilling me. My plan was to build a new system and install Win7 on it, for a total hardware and software upgrade. Doing just an OS upgrade alone seemed like a lot of work, and I’m not one to pass up the opportunity for a quick hardware upgrade.

And then, I dunno, stuff happened.

Owning and writing for TR is, well, awesome, but it’s not the most relaxing of occupations. At certain times of the year, my existence is almost entirely consumed by being continuously on deadline. The four-month blur at the end of 2010 didn’t really ease up until after CES this year, for instance. Finding the time to build a new personal system, troubleshoot it, and re-install all of the applications, at the loss of other forms of productivity, isn’t a simple matter.

Somehow, a succession of these blurry, on-deadline blocks passed, and before I knew it, it was 2011, and I was still running Windows Vista on my main PC. Windows 7 runs on every other Windows-based computer I use, including multiple laptops, my HTPC, and all of my test rigs. The dissonance with my main PC was, to my amusement, something I barely noticed 98% of the time. All of the apps worked the same, after all. The other 2%? Flashes of pure, incandescent rage at ridiculous interface choices and inexplicably still-broken features. After years of updates and multiple service packs, Vista still couldn’t remember my default printer correctly, couldn’t copy a file of any respectable size across my network, and so on.

Eventually, I couldn’t stand it anymore. That sentiment converged with another powerful emotion, too.

You see, at CES this past year, I had an unusual experience while visiting one of the booths. Now, I’ve been to an awful lot of these trade shows over the years, and I’ve become horribly jaded. Looking at PC hardware components on display under harsh lighting lost any visceral appeal it may once have had long ago. Besides, I tend to geek out more over Sandy Bridge benchmark results or the latest GPU architecture than over a PC case or cooler.

Yet at the Corsair booth, as a rep was explaining something about a new product to the other guys, I gazed up at a demo system sitting alone on a pedestal with its side open. I forget if the case was a 600T or a 650D, but the build inside of it was incredibly clean, with impeccable cable routing, vast amounts of room to work, and a single, unified design theme executed in Cash-meets-Vader black on black.

And lo, I did lusteth after it in mine heart.

My rising desire for a total OS and hardware upgrade eventually poked through a small hole in my schedule, and last week, I set out at long last to build myself a new box.

The components

I wanted my component selection to mirror some of what we’ve put in our recent system guides, but my system builds are usually strongly influenced by whatever spare parts I can cull from the storage shelves in Damage Labs. That factor influenced some of my choices, although the overall build still looks quite a bit like the Sweeter Spot in many respects. Here are the components I chose.

Case, PSU, and CPU cooler – First of all, inquiries were made with Corsair, to see if indulging my CES-inspired urges might be possible. Heck, really, the integration between this chassis and the other components was the key to the build, as I envisioned it. The folks at Corsair were happy to oblige. One thing led to another, and eventually I found myself humming the Imperial March while slicing open the box for this bad boy:

600t-purty.jpg, 129kB

Yep, it’s the white-and-black edition of the 600T, affectionately nicknamed the Stormtrooper edition. Personally, I think its lines make it look more like a Scout Trooper, but I realize that simply having written those words consigns me to the seventh circle of nerd-dom. Whether you like it or not, the white 600T is striking, different, and a refreshing change from the sheer ubiquity of black computer components these days. I happen to think it looks quite nice in person. The bright white LEDs on the power button and case fans give it a certain purity, and the the white plastic really does fit with this enclosure’s the bulbous exterior lines. This puppy is also way more of a conversation piece than even the most gorgeously understated black enclosures, like Corsair’s 650D or Silverstone’s many handsome efforts.

To go with it, I chose a Corsair AX750 PSU and an H60 self-enclosed CPU water cooler. Crucially, the AX750 has modular connections, so there won’t be any extra power leads polluting the inside of my case. Sizing it was a matter of finding a PSU with enough power connections to support a possible SLI or CrossFire config in the future. Given how PSUs are sold these days, peak wattage is rarely a problem, especially in a single-rail design like Corsair’s AX series. I didn’t want to push into really high wattages where I’d potentially sacrifice efficiency and acoustics unnecessarily.

We’ll talk more about the H60 shortly, and I’m sure you’ll see its appeal.

CPU – You’d think I’d want a Sandy Bridge processor to drop into a new system build like this one, and you’d be correct. However, the Damage Labs parts shelf doesn’t have a spare Sandy Bridge CPU sitting around on it, I can assure you. We need ’em all for testing, and probably any extras we can scrounge, too. The parts shelf did have another willing candidate, though: the six-core, 32nm, Gulftown-based Core i7-980X, recently surpassed as the fastest desktop processor on the planet by the Core i7-990X. With the 990X having taken over the top spot, the 980X was available. At a 3.33GHz base clock with a Turbo peak of 3.6GHz, the 980X doesn’t exactly suck, either. I’d almost prefer the higher single-threaded performance of a fast Sandy Bridge chip, truth be told, but somehow I think I can live with this one.

Motherboard – Ok, honestly, I needed a mobo to support the Core i7-980X, and the obvious candidate was an Intel DX58SO2 that we’d retired after the Core i7-990X review because it gave us problems with overclocking. I’m not shy about saying that I’d much rather prefer a board from Asus, MSI, or Gigabyte; recent Intel desktop boards have been relatively feature rich (compared to past Intel boards) but frustratingly troublesome, as well. I’ve had much better luck with boards from the big three. Still, the DX58SO2 met all of my requirements, including Gulftown support, a nice mix of DIMM and PCIe slots, USB 3.0, and SATA 6Gbps. I figured even if it did have some quirks, I had the smarts and resources to work through them. I was right, in the end, but next time, I’ll order an Asus or something. More about why coming up.

Graphics card – Since I do most of my gaming on the GPU test rigs instead of this system, a near-silent solution was more important to me than raw performance. Nevertheless, I had ambitious plans here involving a Zotac GTX 580 3GB card with an excellent triple-slot Zalman cooler. That cooler was a wonder of quiet effectiveness in our recent testing, but those tests were conducted without a sound card nestled right up against its two fans. Yeah, that doesn’t work so well, thermally speaking, as I soon found out. My fall-back plan was MSI’s excellent “Twin Frozr II” edition of the GeForce GTX 560 Ti. MSI’s 560 Ti was quiet enough to reach the noise floor for our GPU test system in our acoustic measurements, and it’s fast enough to make the Damagebox a competent participant in any LAN gaming sessions, despite my use of a 30″, four-megapixel monster display.

Memory – Some amount of DDR3 memory was going into the box, either 6GB or 12GB, depending on what I could swing. This simple choice became complicated, for reasons I’ll explain.

Storage – No question I was going to use an SSD as my primary boot drive, with large mechanical drives holding the the bulk of my personal data. I’d been saving the SSD for a Win7 upgrade for some time now; it’s a 128GB OCZ Vertex with a firmware upgrade to support TRIM. Although newer SSDs can achieve higher sustained transfer rates, their near-instant access times aren’t substantially quicker than an older SSD’s near-instant access times, in the grand scheme. The Vertex gives me all of the major SSD benefits one would appreciate, including short boot times, quick program start-ups, and sheer silent operation. 128GB is large enough not to feel cramped, which is a nice change from the old 80GB Intel X25-M I’d been using before, where I had to manage storage space carefully.

I’ve used a pair of WD Caviar Green 1TB drives in a mirror as my primary storage array for a while. For this build, I simply broke the mirror and brought one the drives over to my new box, migrating all of my data while keeping my old PC fully operational during the transition. I’ve been tempted by cheap prices on 2TB drives lately, but I think 1TB will still suffice, in part because of the LG Blu-ray burner I’ve also carried over from my old system. The LG drive lets me archive things to optical disks in large chunks—TR server backups, family photos and videos, Steam game cache files—which is helpful.

Sound card – If you’re a long-time TR reader, you know what the editors here think about the quality of discrete audio versus your typical, Realtek-driven integrated sound. You may also know that sound cards haven’t progressed tremendously in the past, oh, five years or so (with the exception that Asus’ excellent Xonar DG has pushed the price of entry for quality sound cards down to 30 bucks.) I wasn’t shy about transporting my Auzentech X-Meridian over to my new PC and completely disabling the motherboard’s built-in audio.

I believe that’s about it for the core components. It’s a bit of a Frankenbuild since I looted the parts shelf and carried over a few bits from my older PC, but as I said, the basic outlines turned out to be pretty similar to our Sweeter Spot spec in the guide—similar case, PSU, and Blu-ray drive, similar use of a ~128GB SSD backed by a 1TB hard disk, same basic class of graphics card, a 32nm Intel CPU, and a discrete sound card.

The next step, of course, was putting it all together.

The build

Happily, the hardware build portion of the process was ridiculously easy. I like to think I’ve gotten better at this over the years, but after this experience, I have to admit that the actual hardware involved has improved quite a bit more than anything else. Modern cases have accumulated a whole host of smart features over time: tool-less access, “upside-down” layouts with the PSU at the bottom, removable drive trays, generous cable-routing holes ringing the motherboard, and blessedly large cutouts in the tray beneath the CPU socket for access to cooler mounting mechanisms. The 600T participates in them all, whereas the Sonata that housed my old system had precious few such amenities. The 600T is also part of an emerging class of plus-sized mid-tower cases that grant lots of room to access each component.

Add in the improved standards for things like I/O cables (ah, stringy SATA, how we do not miss your ribbon cable forebears), and you have a potent set of tools at your disposal. Not only is it easier to build a computer than in the past, but it’s also easier to do it well. I’ve never been much for spending extra hours arranging pristine cable routing and locking everything down with zip ties, but everything about this build made clean routing feel like the default and easiest choice, not some neat-freak’s extra burden.

bd-drive-install.jpg, 61kB

bd-connections.jpg, 116kB

Take the task of installing the Blu-ray burner, for instance. To do so, you just reach inside of the case, squeeze a couple of plastic tabs, and pop out the mesh-finished drive-bay cover. Then, slide the optical drive into the bay until it clicks into place. That’s it; no further adjustment is required.

With both of sides off of the case, routing cables to the drive is also a snap. You just push the SATA cable and power lead up through the routing hole and plug them into the drive. At the other end, the SATA cable pops up through a hole right next to one of the mobo’s SATA ports, while the power lead pokes through near one of the sockets on the modular PSU. All of the criss-crossing cable mess runs behind the motherboard tray, where it it will be obscured once the side panel is installed.

ssd-tray.jpg, 128kB

The 600T’s flexy plastic drive trays have four posts pre-installed, so they’re ready to grip a 3.5″ drive with no tools needed. They’ll also accept a 2.5″ drive like my boot SSD, but you have to remove one of the posts and fasten the 2.5″ drive via the four screw holes included for that purpose.

drives.jpg, 96kB

drives-plugs.jpg, 90kB

Here are a couple of shots of the two drives installed in my system. The thumb tabs on the drive cages protrude into the, er, “top” side of the case, where the motherboard’s slots and socket are accessible. Around the other side, where the cable mess is hidden, the SATA power and data ports are exposed.

The 600T has two of the three-bay drive cages like you see above, but I removed the upper one to allow for better airflow from the large fan in the front of the case.

psu-cables.jpg, 92kB

psu-modular.jpg, 114kB

The Corsair AX750 PSU comes out of the box with zero leads attached and a bag full of modular cabling. As you can see, I wound up attaching most of the leads and feeding them down through the routing hole right next to the PSU. Gloriously, no extra, bulky cables were left wadded up next to the PSU.

cpu-area.jpg, 124kB

Here’s a look at the H60 cooler installed. As you can see, not having a giant tower cooler in place really opens up the space around the CPU socket, allowing that big fan at the top of the case to pull air across the DIMMs and the VRM heatsinks.

Because the H60 is self-enclosed, I didn’t have to worry about getting the right level of coolant into it, checking for leaks, or any of that hassle. All you do is install a bracket on the back side of the socket, secure the four screws for the copper water block, and attach power leads for the pump and fan. The fan is a 120-mm unit that exactly matches the size of the fan behind the CPU socket in the 600T and many other cases.

I replaced the existing fan with the one that came with the H60 because, happily, the H60’s fan has a four-pin power lead. That’s important in this build for a simple reason: Intel invented the four-pin PWM fan-control method, and it apparently won’t stoop to supporting three-pin DC fan control for CPU coolers on its flagship motherboard—even though a great many very good coolers don’t have four-pin fan connectors. The board’s other fan headers support three-pin DC control just fine, but if you want fan speed control for the CPU, you’ve gotta have four pins.

On the flip side, I plugged the three-pin header for the H60’s pump into the fan controller built into the 600T. That was the only header I connected to the 600T’s fan controller, and I did it to avoid fan speed control. I don’t want the pump voltage wavering. The 600T’s other fans are all connected to mobo headers, so there’s no need for me to play with the fan speed dial.

Obviously, the H60’s radiator mounts atop the 120-mm fan, so you get additional CPU cooling whenever that fan ramps up. I know we’ve found in the past that good air cooling can be just as effective as a cheap water cooler, but I really like the fact that installing the H60 doesn’t add to the total number of fans in the case. Besides, routing the CPU’s heat directly to a radiator placed over an exhaust port makes a tremendous amount of sense. For what it’s worth, I started this build before the H60 arrived and was using a high-end tower cooler during the initial build. Swapping in the H60 produced lower CPU temperatures and a subjectively quieter system. This sort of cooler may be a bit of a luxury at around 73 bucks, but I consider it a true upgrade over most air coolers.

rear-ports.jpg, 72kB

Here’s an interesting touch that shows you how up-to-the-minute the 600T happens to be right now. There’s a USB 3.0 port on the front of the case, but most motherboards with USB 3.0 don’t seem to have headers available for internal connections. Corsair has recognized that fact and included a cable that routes through a pre-cut hole in the nearest expansion slot cover and plugs into a USB 3.0 port in the rear cluster. Yeah, it’s not exactly perfectly seamless, but it was the best possible solution for the motherboard we used.

final-guts2.jpg, 153kB

Without further ado, here’s the payoff: the guts of the fully assembled system, with everything connected and operational. This is what blew me away on the show floor in Vegas and what I had hoped to duplicate in my own build. Making it happen was simply a matter of being deliberate about each connection and using the provisions built into the case and other hardware. Compared to the messy jumble of my prior builds, this thing is a minor miracle—and a major upgrade.

While I’m heaping praise on modern PC hardware and standards for making such a wondrous thing possible, I should pause to consider one mistake I didn’t make: plugging a USB port into a Firewire header on the motherboard and vice-versa. Such mix-ups used to be way too easy to make, but most standards now have unique pinouts to prevent calamities. USB and Firewire, however, still share the exact same header layout. I did not make this mistake because, well, I’d already made it this past Christmas, when I sacrificed a perfectly good motherboard (and a USB flash drive) to my own education in this matter. Sparks were involved.

One anomaly you might be wondering about in the picture above is the black cable jutting into the lowest 5.25″ drive bay. The DX58SO2 comes with a rectangular plastic doodad that provides Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, complete with double-sided tape for mounting in an empty drive bay. The cable is a USB lead running up to that doodad. I have no need for Wi-Fi in this system, but I use Bluetooth for headsets for Skype calls, so in it went.

The cooling situation is worth discussing a bit from this view, too. There are two intake fans and two exhaust fans. The intakes are the massive 200-mm fan at the front of the case, by the drive bays, and the 120-mm fan in the PSU, which pulls air in through a cutout (and an air filter) in the bottom of the case. The exhaust fans include the 120-mm fan behind the H60’s radiator and the 200-mm giant at the top of the case. Three of the four are connected to the mobo’s headers, with the exception being the PSU fan.

Whatever its other flaws, the Intel board offers excellent fan speed control via the Extreme Tuning Utility for Windows, which allows precise manipulation of temperature-based speed targets. With this tool, I was able to create a profile that allows my system to operate as quietly as possible most of the time while dynamically ramping up fan speeds as needed to keep temperatures in check.

Working out the kinks

I’d like to tell you that once I’d finished my basic hardware build, the rest was rainbows and unicorns and that you should really run off right now and build you own PC, because it’s a wonderful experience. I do believe it can be a wonderful experience, but I ran into problems for some very specific reasons, most of them involving a certain, ahem, motherboard.

Once I’ve built a new system and installed the OS and drivers, my next step is to conduct some burn-in testing, putting various components under load and watching for temperature and stability problems. When I did that with this system, mayhem ensued in various forms.

zotac-clearance.jpg, 136kB

The first problem was one I’d anticipated that was pretty much my fault. The picture above shows the positioning of my sound card right next to the twin fans on the Zotac GTX 580’s triple-slot cooler. The clearance between the sound card and fans… ain’t much. I knew this arrangement was really tight but was hoping for a miracle in which the cooler somehow remained effective. A quick test showed the GPU temperature rising quickly under load, to 90° C and beyond, well above the levels we saw in our review of the card when the fans were unobstructed. Since this motherboard has only one PCI slot and it’s located where it is, leaving the Zotac GTX 580 installed wasn’t an option. My fix was to swap in the MSI GTX 560, as I’ve noted. Watch your clearances when installing graphics cards, kids, especially with coolers based on fans instead of blowers.

Beyond that, I encountered two apparently related issues with my new build: temperatures on the IOH chip were rising to over 80° C under load, and the system was locking up intermittently

Now, on the DX58SO2, the IOH chip has its own passive heatsink, but that heatsink is connected to the two VRM heatsinks surrounding the CPU socket via a heat pipe. I’m not a fan of such designs, because it seems like sometimes the interconnection just ends up moving heat around to other components sharing the pipe, creating problems where none would exist otherwise.

I tried tackling this problem by adjusting the fan control policies on the motherboard to be extremely aggressive. I fretted about a lack of active cooling directly around the CPU socket due to my use of the H60, so I tried throwing in some additional cooling in the general area by mounting one of Corsair’s twin-fan coolers above the DIMMs, too. Nothing really seemed to help. Temperatures still rose beyond 80° C under load, throwing alerts in Intel’s monitoring software, and the IOH would idle at 77° C or thereabouts, not really cooling down much after my stress tests subsided. I can’t tell you how high the peak temperatures might have gotten during stress testing, because I was afraid to let it push beyond 82° C. That is a wimpy passive heatsink on the IOH, no doubt, but those temperatures were scary—and the system was locking up. Surely something wasn’t right.

Stymied, I knew what my next step had to be, but I really didn’t like it. I needed to check the integrity of the thermal connection between the heatsink and the IOH chip, which meant removing the entire heatpipe complex ringing the CPU socket on three sides. On my completed build. What were the chance the cutout beneath the CPU socket would allow access to all of the screws holding it in?

Six out of eight ain’t bad, but I still had to remove the motherboard completely from the case in order to get at those last two screws. Ugh.

When I popped off the cooler, here’s what I found.

ioh-tim-fabric.jpg, 40kB

I’m not sure whether you can see it, but the thermal interface material (TIM) on the heatsink had some fabric embedded in it. Pulling it off the chip loosened up the fabric. Fabric is usually not a good conductor of heat, and TIMs with it embedded generally tend to be used on components that don’t require a tremendous amount of cooling. This mobo’s IOH clearly didn’t belong in that category.

ioh-tim-gunk.jpg, 87kB

You can see the fabric pattern in the TIM on the IOH chip, too. This is the sort of TIM that’s very hard and gummy, making it frustratingly difficult to remove. After a lot of failed scraping and scrubbing, I wound up using a little bit of engine cleaner in order to remove the rest of the gooey TIM.

ioh-paste.jpg, 120kB

The next step was to apply some proper thermal paste. I was worried that the stand-off screws for the cooler wouldn’t allow the heatsink to make solid, uniform contact with the surface of the IOH, so I grabbed an old tube of Arctic Silver Ceramique, a thicker thermal paste than most, and applied a fairly robust layer. Perhaps that was overkill, but I didn’t want to take any chances.

Once the system was reassembled, I fired up the Intel monitoring software and kicked off a load test, once again consisting of Prime95 and a graphics demo, as before. Together, those two programs heat up both the CPU VRMs and the IOH’s PCIe blocks. This time, the IOH’s temperature topped out at 69° C under load and dropped down to about 62° C at idle. Most importantly, using the thermal paste allowed the heatsink to be effective enough to keep temperatures from rising continuously into dangerous territory.

For a victory lap, I kicked off an overnight Prime95 stress test, something I was afraid to do before. The next morning, the new box was chuffing along happily, with decent temperatures and exemplary stability. I figured my build was complete, so I swapped out my old computer for my new one. My “production” data, programs, sessions, and such were shifted to the new box.

Then, that evening, while doing nothing but idling, the system locked up. This happened again several more times over the course of the next few days, causing my stomach to churn and knot. I wasn’t sure what to do. Since all of the temperatures looked good and the thing was quite happy running Prime95 stress tests, there wasn’t an obvious answer. Fortunately, I’ve learned two things over time that helped me troubleshoot. One, if you’re seeing random stability problems that don’t make sense, you probably have a memory-related issue. Two, consult the Google. When my Google searches came back with multiple forum threads where people were complaining about memory compatibility issues with the DX58SO2, I figured I was on to something.

Now, having a lab full of computer parts at your disposal can sometimes come in handy when troubleshooting hardware problems, and this was clearly one of those times. Damage Labs has a pretty extensive collection of DDR3 DIMMs. If there was a bad DIMM or an incompatibility, I could easily swap in another set of modules.

The thing is, testing for a very random, very intermittent problem isn’t easy.

Frankly, the exact shape of the subsequent troubleshooting process is tough to recollect precisely. I know there were a number of days involved, my now-primary PC wasn’t working right, and I was both desperate and attempting to be methodical at the same time. I already had the latest mobo BIOS flashed, so there wasn’t much else to do there. I tried a range of increasingly less aggressive memory clock speeds and timings, though these were Corsair DIMMs rated for 1600MHz operation at 1.65V. I tried dropping back from six modules to three. I tried a number of different sets of DIMMs of the exact same type, thinking perhaps it was a faulty module. I tried a set of OCZ DIMMs of similar vintage rated for 2133MHz, with perhaps worst results. I remember thinking I’d fixed it and then seeing the system lock up after hours of perfect operation. I remember thinking I’d established a known-bad configuration with the Corsair DIMMs (which is at least something) only to realize that the Intel mobo and software had decided, since there was a crash before, to drop the memory voltage back to 1.5V—the JEDEC default, but not the most stable setting.

Gee, thanks, guys.

This happened multiple times, and between the BIOS and Intel’s tweaking utility, I felt like I couldn’t trust the mobo to maintain the proper settings as I was troubleshooting.

Ultimately, after waking up yet another morning to a computer that had locked overnight, I had a bit of an epiphany. Rather than using the slightly older DDR3 DIMMs I’d intended, I thought, perhaps I should swap in some newer modules that are about six months old. Seems strange, sure, since none of the other modules I’d tried had worked, but they were all maybe 18-24 months of age.

And that did the trick. That was at least five or six days ago, and the system hasn’t locked once since.

Turns out the Intel DX58SO2 must have some basic incompatibility with slightly older DIMMs, even though both the X58 chipset and the Gulftown memory controller have quite a few miles on them by now themselves. Who knew? All I know is, next time I’d rather pay full price for an Asus, Gigabyte, or MSI board. What a sorry waste of time.

Conclusions

At the end of the day, I think the moral of the story is that building a PC—and doing it really well—is easier than ever, but you still need to be very careful about your component selection.

I’m a little bit discouraged about how vexing the end of this build turned out to be, because my aim was, in part, to demonstrate how putting together a system with the latest components can be a much better experience than one might have had several years ago. Were it not for my choice of an Intel motherboard, I think the process would have gone pretty smoothly. Here’s hoping the discerning reader can see that.

In spite of some bumps in the road, I’m thrilled with the final result. Now that it’s stable, I’ve reverted to a very aggressive quiet fan profile, and in typical use, this system is incredibly quiet—inaudible unless Damage Labs has nothing else running, the A/C isn’t on, and the kids aren’t making any noise upstairs. When it is audible, the fan noise is smooth and subdued, offering little hint of the powerful hardware lurking within the case. Boot times are down, productivity is up, and at long last, Windows Vista has been banished to the ash heap of history, where it belongs.

Comments closed
    • erhebung
    • 8 years ago

    Really interesting article. I’m not in the market for a beast like this, but if I were, this is what I’d want.

    One question: in the third image ( [url<]https://techreport.com/gallery/index.x?id=21039&image=50561[/url<] ), what is the purpose of the USB cable that runs back inside the case? Is it connecting to the USB ports on the top of the case? Or powering something inside?? I'm curious.

    • swaaye
    • 8 years ago

    It’s definitely strange to see them use that mesh reinforced paste for the chipset. I’ve seen it with graphics card RAM before but in that situation there are are gaps which necessitate it. It’s an alternative to foam thermal pads.

    • dashbarron
    • 8 years ago

    I’m not trying to trip you up here, but for say spare component you have been given as demo products, what do you do with them when you are done reviewing? Can you keep and use them as you want or do you have to ship them back when you’re done?

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    If you look around you’ll see I was dogged by horrible mobo issues for over a year. Eventually we found it was my mobo combo with my CPU, the Q6600 didn’t mesh with the EVGA nvidia mobo I had it in(2 different boards and chipsets too!!!) mobo issues are the worst!!!

    • Cannyone
    • 8 years ago

    I have a Corsair 600T, and even with some fan upgrades the cooling was abysmal. Now that there is a side panel available that allows mounting 4 fans I might actually be able to use it. Still I find their latest iteration strikes me as a Mac “Wannabe” and I just would ever go there…

    Oh and Scott, you should be ashamed for letting your system go! Just no excuse for it. 😉

    • axeman
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]Happily, I decided to end all that recently by building myself an excellent new computer[/quote<] This reminds me of Dan's Data, or maybe Top Gear's writing style. In any case that's a good thing. That's why I come here. I get the distinct feeling many other enthusiast sites are either run by, or overrun by, juvenile {H}ardcore gamers. In other cases, the sites are more intelligent, but overrun by advertising and just not all that interesting. This site hits the sweet spot, and that makes it the best computer hardware website.... In the world.

    • anotherengineer
    • 8 years ago

    Hey Scott I don’t know if Auzentech keeps its old meridian drivers up to date, but Cmedia is now updating the drivers for the 8788 chip again.

    I got the latest for my 8788 chip from HT Omega.

    [url<]http://www.htomega.com/new/c81793.zip[/url<] This driver is updated asio feature. If you need further information, please let me know Thanks. Sincerely,HT OMEGA – Tech Support But you can also get it from CMedia's website.

    • rogue426
    • 8 years ago

    That case is beautiful, I was going to buy a regular 600 T but glad I waited because this white one is striking IMHO. Glad to read you ironed out all the kinks from the new system. I’m curious as to what that Gulftown’s ppd would be.

      • Airmantharp
      • 8 years ago

      You know, I think it’s sharp for what it is, but I still don’t like the shape, regardless of color. It reminds me too much of an old awfully designed Compaq crossbred with an egg; and not in a good way.

      Though it’s functional for sure, I much like the sharp lines of say Silverstone’s Fortress FT-02, and I really like the dimunitive size of my Fractal Design Define R3, considering how much capability I’ve been able to shove into it! Both of these cases are also available in a beautiful white scheme, by the way :).

    • Welch
    • 8 years ago

    I’m glad to see you got the Corsair case :)! I’ve built 3 systems around the 600T and the second I built one, I fell in love with the case overall, especially the cable management.

    Welcome to 2011 Scott :), now you’ll have to get ready to Windows 8 in a few short years lol :)!

    • juampa_valve_rde
    • 8 years ago

    Congrats Scott, pretty build, im in love with the case, and finally you’re on windows 7 (on time for sp1). Cheers.

    • Zroc
    • 8 years ago

    Awesome. I just built myself a rig in this same white 600T three days ago….LOVE this case. Literally blown away how easy it was, not only to build, but make look just utterly clean. The white LEDs are just classy.

    And yes, it’d look right at home on a speeder bike blasting those infernal ewoks 😉

    • anotherengineer
    • 8 years ago

    Nice (spare parts) build 😉

    Even nicer

    [url<]http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Computex/Booth_Babes_2011/[/url<] 😉

    • flip-mode
    • 8 years ago

    The white/black aesthetic does wonders to diminish the chunky pig-in-a-blanket look of that case. It also reminds me of the movie Aliens when the queen alien’s head emerged from it’s ensconcing sheaf. It also reminds me of a butterfly-cut center-loin pork chop with the ring of fat around it.

    • indeego
    • 8 years ago

    [url<]https://techreport.com/image.x/damagebox-2011/600t-purty2-1600.jpg[/url<] If you look at this from the side I am imagining the case is a stoic old man with a hairpiece and huge nose.

    • Prototyped
    • 8 years ago

    This is why friends don’t let friends buy ricer >1.5V RAM. 1.65V may be the voltage limit, but higher isn’t better, higher indicates compromise.

      • Airmantharp
      • 8 years ago

      1.5v is the standard now- go look at Newegg’s list of DDR3-1600 kits in the 16GB range.

    • Drewstre
    • 8 years ago

    Damage- quick question…
    Why did you plug the H60 pump header into the fan controller, instead of straight into a molex plug (with an adapter)? That would eliminate one potential point of failure… also, it would probably be bad if you accidentally nudged that dial.

    Just curious, thanks. Nice writeup, thanks for taking the time to photograph your progress and do an article on it.

      • Damage
      • 8 years ago

      Ah, I may do that. Probably best, huh?

    • Coran Fixx
    • 8 years ago

    “The dissonance with my main PC ”

    If your main PC was fooling around with Dissonance, you were right to kick her to the curb.

    • oldDummy
    • 8 years ago

    Ahhhh yes, nothing like it.
    “new hardware” don’t ya love it.

    • Hallucinosis
    • 8 years ago

    Interesting choices, but sounds like a solid system. Back in September I built my new machine and it’s not all that much different from what you ended up with, but I did choose a RAID 10 for the system drive.

    Intel i7 980x
    12 GB RAM
    4x 2TB Western Digital Black on a 3WARE 9650SE-ML8 (256MB cache) in RAID 10 (carved into 2 drives, as Windows does not like to boot to a drive more than 2TB)
    80GB Intel x25M (gen 2) containing a 32GB ReadyBoost + a few apps/games (this works extremely well when the SSD is not the system drive)
    2TB Wester Digital Green for backups
    nVidia 480GTX 1.5GB
    Corsair D800 case (RAID 10 drives in the hot swap bays in the front)
    750 watt corsair power supply (I forget the model)
    Gigabyte motherboard with USB 3.0.
    Using onboard sound optical output (no sound quality problems this way).

    • indeego
    • 8 years ago

    A few comments:

    1. Bummer about the Vertex 1 (or 2 or 3.)

    2. For memory testing leave this on 24 hours: [url=http://www.memtest.org/<]memtest86+[/url<] Or just get the [url=http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/<]Ultimate Boot CD[/url<] for a wide suite of burn-in tests. 3. [i<]This puppy is also way more of a conversation piece than even the most gorgeously understated black enclosures, like Corsair's 650D or Silverstone's many handsome efforts.[/i<] This saddens me somewhat. However the case design is gorgeous otherwise.

      • Damage
      • 8 years ago

      1. Bummer you have problems with it. Great drive.

      2. Memtest was involved, with at one point three systems testing 18 DIMMs for problems. Never could prove anything, though. Part of why this was tough to troubleshoot.

      3. Sniffle?

        • Airmantharp
        • 8 years ago

        1. I’ll second reliability issues with OCZ’s Vertex series, pretty much across the board. I’m an Intel controller man all the way now, these drives (and others) simply shouldn’t fail in the droves that they do.

        2. This is very, very hard, and I feel for Scott here. I’ve had issues with my G.Skill kit before, only to find that they were due to a CMOS reset after which I forgot to bump the voltage back up. You’d never know!

        3. I think the case is butt ugly, by design, as I considered it runner up for the Fractal Design Define R3 that I used instead. I gave up the window and got a much needed side fan mount for Crossfire.

          • indeego
          • 8 years ago

          His pairing of a Vertex (1?) drive with such a powerful system just stands out to me. The Vertex1’s were controversial on their release due to Indilinx controller issues, but they are considered vastly out of date in almost all benchmarks against even the cheapest of SSD’s these days. They were seen as a “value” drive compared to Intel’s in late 2009.

          I wouldn’t recommend OCZ either of course due to the abyssmal drive reliability, which Anand was [url=http://www.anandtech.com/show/2742/2<]talking[/url<] about during 2009, let alone a quick glance through their forums. Avoid OCZ!

            • Airmantharp
            • 8 years ago

            Actually, I’d rather have an Indilinx drive- and if it’s free (available, whatever), I’d much rather have it over none at all. And it isn’t such a powerful system. Note that Scott handily tosses out a GTX580 for a GTX560 because his soundcard wouldn’t allow it, even as he mentions that he’s running games on a 30″ 2560×1600 monitor! He could easily have gotten a PCIe soundcard and kept the much faster GPU.

    • burntham77
    • 8 years ago

    I have the graphite version of that Corsair case. It was a little pricey for my taste, but it was SO worth it. It is the most beautiful case I have ever used, not just in terms of looks, but also in terms of how easy it was to work with. It makes me want to upgrade once a month, just so I can have the pleasure of opening it up and working inside of it.

    The only thing that bugs me about it is that sometimes it creaks. It sounds like the plastic moves a little now and then. I am not sure if it is from the way I organized the cables and maybe some of them are tight against the case door, or if the varying temperature inside the case and in the room are making the plastic expand and contract. It is a minor gripe, but it is strange.

    • Kharnellius
    • 8 years ago

    Great article…that was a fun read. 🙂

    • cwditter
    • 8 years ago

    White cases are for Macs…or 90s PCs…it’s about as stylish as carpet on walls used to be

      • Firestarter
      • 8 years ago

      Thank heavens that Scott can rely on you for the final decision on what is and is not tasteful! Also, I recommend that you check out the patterned silk that lines the walls of some castles. I dare say it’s a touch more stylish that your average wall.

      • Cuhulin
      • 8 years ago

      The white that is on this case is very different from the white (actually more beige) that was on cases in the 80’s and 90’s — I built lots of them then. Colors (and wall surfaces) are always in the eye of the beholder, but I think this is a really well done case.

      • indeego
      • 8 years ago

      We should not be downvoting opinions. Or does Tech report or its readers think we shouldn’t offer them up?

        • Airmantharp
        • 8 years ago

        The ‘opinion’ being downvoted is stated as a fact; while I don’t take offense to the wording, it seems that plenty of others do :).

        • Meadows
        • 8 years ago

        Contrary to popular misbelief, there *is* such a thing as a wrong opinion.

          • indeego
          • 8 years ago

          Even wrong opinions don’t deserve downvotes. This is obviously an opinion being expressed.

          Actually, we have no idea what the up and down arrows represent. I generally use them depending on my grumpiness for the day.

            • Airmantharp
            • 8 years ago

            Wrong ‘opinions’ should be rightly countered, and I use the up and down votes to show that something is either particularly true and well said, or not. I tend to leave neutral comments alone.

        • FuturePastNow
        • 8 years ago

        Up and down votes indicate agreement or disagreement. An opinion is a perfectly valid thing to agree or disagree with.

          • Airmantharp
          • 8 years ago

          Someone disagrees with you 🙂 (not me)

    • FubbHead
    • 8 years ago

    Cool case. I would love to see the Bitfenix Survivor get the same Stormtrooper treatment as well. 🙂

    • AGerbilWithAFootInTheGrav
    • 8 years ago

    makes me think that I haven’t built a PC in *gasp* three years…

    ah well, my perhaps old, but still working quite nicely Q9550 is not complaining, still it is fun to see that the “usual” stress with having a new build is not exactly a thing of the past.

    in any case, an excellent writeup

      • FuturePastNow
      • 8 years ago

      Makes me glad I built a PC I could slowly upgrade, a piece at a time. AM2+, and there are [i<]still[/i<] new CPU options coming out.

    • destroy.all.monsters
    • 8 years ago

    About the H60 –

    have you tested it in a push configuration as well (as in case/radiator/fan – fan pushing out)?

    I’m looking to build a gaming pc in the next couple months and I’d prefer not to put a huge monstrosity on top of the x6 if I can help it.

    Thanks

      • adamwzl
      • 8 years ago

      For best peformance using the H60 would be a push & pull fan config. I would grab some yate loons or gentle typhoons to use.

      You can always go full water cooling, but thats if your up to it. It is more of a hassel, but worth it if your into silent but cool temps while overclocking.

        • Airmantharp
        • 8 years ago

        The H60 in my system can keep a 2500k at 5.0GHz and ~1.4V sufficiently cool, with just the stock fan. If you’re going to put another fan on, or two new ones, you’ll just be trying to get the noise down; problem is, the fan doesn’t make noise to begin with; the noise comes from air moving through the radiator. More fans would simply amplify that, while increasing cooling ability beyond what is necessary.

          • adamwzl
          • 8 years ago

          The corsair fan is probably decent enough. But more airflow through the radiator will drop the temps by a decent amount. Especially if you use stand offs between the fans. The air moving through the radiator will have such a low dba you wont be able to hear it anyway.

          I am not too sure about the radiator corsair uses, but I assume its kind of more in the medium. So either high flow or low flow fans can cool decently. 2x Scythe Gentle Typhoons AP15s have a great dba level at 1850rpms (28dba). The CFM the fans put off are pretty good as well (58.3). I’m pretty positive if you use those fans in a push/pull config you will see decent temperature drops on your H60 during load.

          Tharp, I’m not too sure if this is your first time dabbing into water cooling or you just prefer simplicity of the all in one kits. But even with water cooling you can not escape the use of good silent fans in a internal loop especially when you have other components added in the loop as well.

            • Airmantharp
            • 8 years ago

            My point was that the fan Corsair ships the H60 with is excellent- it pushes a great deal of air while being effectively silent. The noise generated from higher fans speeds is more a product of the fan pushing air through the radiator than the fan itself.

            I am ‘new’ to watercooling rigs in that I haven’t found the need for them yet- I haven’t had a system that could overclock so well that it needed water (I’m not rich). It’s actually been a while since Intel has made CPUs that overclock so well!

            So Corsair’s H60 really fit the bill for me this time- same price range as the better air coolers, but also easier to manage around a socket. More points of failure of course, but the CPU does have automatic shutoffs for that too.

            • adamwzl
            • 8 years ago

            Yea water cooling has become expensive now a days. I recently upgraded last year to a i7 950 looked at the latest water cooling offerings and was amazed. I currently have my CPU, x58 NB, and xfire 6950s water cooled through 2x240mm + 120mm rad internally in my storm sniper. I am probably close to 700-800 with all parts and trial/error on fans. Which that could of been put to a faster proc or better video cards. But I’m happy with my system. The most enjoyment is from building.

            My main issue with air cooling is the hot stuffiness I would get when in my computer room gaming for a few hours. The added whine of the video cards and cpu while gaming just bothered me to no end. I rather have one steady sound than the up and down while gaming. But also I havent had a full air system since the socket 939 days.

            • Firestarter
            • 8 years ago

            Watercooling doesn’t change the amount of heat dumped into your room O_o

            • Airmantharp
            • 8 years ago

            Technically it shouldn’t, but more efficient cooling systems have been known to keep rooms hotter.

            • Firestarter
            • 8 years ago

            Increased leak-current due to high temperatures could be the culprit. I’ve never seen hard numbers but I distinctly remember that some CPUs generate more heat when they’re hot, even at the same speed and voltage, with sample variance taken into account.

            edit: [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_runaway#Digital_logic[/url<]

    • glacius555
    • 8 years ago

    I guess the change is upon us, you used “apps” 😛

    • Firestarter
    • 8 years ago

    I’m surprised at the comment about the Corsair H60. You say the CPU temperature dropped while noise decreased when you switched to the H60 from a high-end tower cooler. While your explanation is logical, the cooler itself has been shown to be slightly inferior to the standard high-end tower cooler in all tests that I’ve read about it.

    Perhaps, when the Corsair H80 becomes available, it’s time for some head-to-head testing against a top air cooler (say, a TRUE Rev. 3 or a Noctua NH-D14), INSIDE a case?

      • Airmantharp
      • 8 years ago

      The whole inside/outside case question with coolers is a pretty difficult one to approach.

      Regrettably, it’s only logical to test them outside of a case, or to test them outside and then inside a range of different cases to represent different airflow situations.

      Consider that the water coolers can be mounted as intakes or exhausts, and that cases can be reconfigured to support either-

      With my Fractal Design Define R3, I found that I didn’t like using my H60 as an intake because getting a fan filter on it interfered with the case panel. Further, I had two 140mm fans exhausting at the top, and I felt that they were taking away from the positive pressure I needed to cool my two HD6950’s. I grabbed a couple 140mm filters and flipped the top fans around to take air in, and set the H60 to exhaust, and now have a cooler and quieter system!

      Thing is, situations like mine above will be very difficult to test, and highly case and customizer dependent. I added 4x140mm fans to my case beyond the two 120mm that it came with, and I’m using a higher-end Crossfire setup that will be unlikely to be considered in CPU cooler reviews.

        • Firestarter
        • 8 years ago

        You’re absolutely right that it’s very difficult to test. That’s why we need TR to tell us how it’s done 😉

        I guess the best way to tackle this is to test using a set maximum of case fans. Say, 2 or 3 120mm case fans max. That combined with the PSU fan should be enough to ventilate a case with a 95watt CPU and a 200watt GPU with reasonable acoustics. Then, depending on TRs stock of cases or handyman skills, they could setup 2 or 3 different logical variants of airflow using real cases, or mock up the desired variants using some plywood and a spare motherboard tray.

        Then they could test a single high end tower CPU cooler against the H80, H100 or both, using the 2 or 3 configurations that they deem most sensible. That ought to be enough test variants to drive any TR tester insane, but it would also provide a definitive answer to the eternal question: Suck or blow?

        Your case of 2 GPUs obviously wouldn’t be satisfied by the answers found in that testing, but you have to admit that the majority of TRs gaming readers probably still use 1 GPU. Another problem is the selection of said videocard: Do you pick a quiet videocard that dumps it’s heat inside the case, or a louder one that exhausts out the back?

    • Johnny5
    • 8 years ago

    The interior really is beautiful.

      • Ari Atari
      • 8 years ago

      Boy, you can say that again.

        • Meadows
        • 8 years ago

        The interior really is beautiful.

    • Arclight
    • 8 years ago

    “I’d like to tell you that once I’d finished my basic hardware build, the rest was rainbows and unicorns and that you should really run off right now and build you own PC, because it’s a wonderful experience. I do believe it can be a wonderful experience, but I ran into problems for some very specific reasons, most of them involving a certain, ahem, motherboard”

    I feel your pain….i recently built my own PC and the mobo i first chose (an Asrock) turned out to be defective, it didn’t even POST….so i had to send it back ask for my money and then bought myself a nice Asus M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 which worked smooth as butter from first power up.

    Oh man, all PC builders know the feeling of the first power up, having the cold sweat thinking if you connected all the cables in the right way, hoping that the board won’t short as soon as you press the button…but also the joy when the PC does start up and there is no problem, wow it’s like winning a prize.

      • Meadows
      • 8 years ago

      Quite frankly, ASRock have been the best for me so far, especially as of late. I built PCs for others too using ASRock boards, so I know from experience that they can be relied on if you walk the AMD path, but the intel way is fraught with peril and distress. And peril.

      I did have MSI boards erode away in a year or two, and Gigabyte boards having persistent clock speed related bugs even after eight BIOS revisions, so as long as I stick with AMD, I know I’ll stick with ASRock and/or ASUS (although the latter is more expensive and they’ve made me cranky with this maybe-defective-but-who-knows Xonar Essence ST).

        • Arclight
        • 8 years ago

        Since i first had the problem with the Asrock mobo i went to overclock.net to ask for help and from all the articles it became quite cleare that all low end and mid end ASRock boards (AM3 socket) were very bad.

        As for MSI, they are overrated, if you’re not buying the high-end models they fail pretty quickly. I think their company did alot of PR and many so called “overclockers” recommanded them left and right, but frankly nobody should bother with MSI’s boards (unless they are in the high end segment).

        Back to Asrock, they are a spin off of Asus, created especially to produce affordable products that Asus can’t churn out because of the fear that those products will fail creating bad rep for their company and brand in general.

        In my opinion a motherboard RAM and CPU selection must go through a very rigurous selection. From my build i learned that RAM should be chosen from those models listed in the motherboard manual (they have a section for aproved vendors of RAM and models tested).

        When you choose the mobo you must make sure it has good enough heatsinks, especially for the VRM and you must make sure it has enough power phases, unheatsinked 4+1 is pretty much garbbage (and a recipe for disaster) if you pair it up with a 125W CPU and want to overclock.

          • Airmantharp
          • 8 years ago

          I’ve been an Asus/Gigabyte fan for years; usually choosing based on features/performance/price. Sometimes it was whoever had the cheaper board on the shelf at Fry’s due to a failure.

          I used ASRock this last time, with Sandy Bridge and Z68 (traded in a P67 that was virtually identical). I’m quite pleased with it from every direction, especially it’s ability to run my 2500k at 5.0GHz with a little juice and the safeties removed. I cannot recommend this company enough.

            • Arclight
            • 8 years ago

            So you got a high end motherboard from Asrock and it’s running very well….good for you, i’m glad it didn’t fry on you. But as i said before i was talking about low and mid end motherboards from MSI and Asrock….you know the ones with low grade components….last i checked Z68 was high end.

            Right now in my country the Asrock Z68 Pro is more expensive than my Asus M4A88TD-V EVO USB3.
            Also you said a “P67 that was virtually identical” to a Z68, which is not quite true….by the time mobo manufacturers released “Z” 1155 mobos they had already learned their lessons from the “P” series in terms of overclocking. Again i express my lack of confidence regarding Asrock and MSI low end and mid end products, especially on AMD side where the focus is on value rather than build quality. I can only agree to disagree.

            • Airmantharp
            • 8 years ago

            Intel chipsets costs more than AMD’s- period. They charge more, and we pay it.

            Regardless, you can get H67/P67/Z68 boards for <$130, which make for decent budget solutions, and come with ‘lower grade’ components themselves. I got a ‘higher end’ board only because it came with ‘higher end’ features I needed, and other things I wanted, like ASRock’s 3.5″ USB3 bay.

            In saying that they are virtually identical, I was comparing my P67 Extreme4 with my Z68 Extreme4, not to anything else. Those two boards, aside from the obvious differences in capability, are virtually identical, including in UEFI design.

    • obarthelemy
    • 8 years ago

    Oh my, you had quite a few issues building that thing. That’s really why I’m quitting OCing, or even building high-perf computers. I don’t need the high perf, and I no longer enjoy having things freeze up on me and spending hours trying to locate the issue. Not to mention spending several times more money on supposedly premium stuff that doesn’t work, as opposed to regular stuff that just works.

    Also, my new aesthetics rule is: discreet. Not Apple’s fake discreet, but stuff you really either don’t see or don’t notice. BTW, I’d call your new case “the Air Conditionner”. I hope it’s not as noisy.

      • RickyTick
      • 8 years ago

      Thumbs up. Over-clocking is Over-rated.

        • indeego
        • 8 years ago

        Stability rules all else. The first time I experience a freezing system I feel like I’ve lost all the benefits of the O/C. I’ll dabble in it occasionally, but even just a single freeze/lockup/anomaly to me is 1 too many.

          • Firestarter
          • 8 years ago

          For overclocking, the rule should be pretty simple: leave a generous margin. You can have all the fun you want trying to squeeze the last Mhz out of that CPU/GPU/RAM, but as soon as you just want to play a game, you just have to back off at least 5% and ideally test again. Leaving a 200mhz margin on a 4.4Ghz overclock might seem like a lot, but IMO it’s still really marginal.

      • Hallucinosis
      • 8 years ago

      I used to overclock when you could see gains like taking a 300MHz celeron to 450MHz, but now I’m old (32) and I’ll just shell out a bit more for a faster processor and leave it alone. I’ve burned a few in the past. Also, the hassle of having a water cooling system is no longer worth it to me.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 8 years ago

        Stuff is just SO FAST and power saving features that don’t work well when OC’d just make it not worth it. Even my “old” 3.1GHz Phenom II is still faster than I need.

          • Palek
          • 8 years ago

          Errr… I have a 3.0GHz Phenom II and I didn’t think it was old… 🙁

            • derFunkenstein
            • 8 years ago

            It is. Like 3 years old. It’s still pretty bleepin fast.

          • axeman
          • 8 years ago

          The biggest bottleneck for most people is going to be storage anyhow. Even with fast SSDs, unless you’re really well off, you’re going to deal with some sort of slower mass storage at some point. That’s why RAM has always been such a good bang for your buck. If you can’t use it for programs, at least the OS can cache more stuff. Hell, a lot of the time at home and at work, the bottleneck ends up being the internet and/or WAN connections. And for games, well, the the video is going to be a bigger issue. Hell for any computing where CPU performance might be really important, you’re probably going to be a professional that has a budget to spend a little more on a fast CPU.

        • nexxcat
        • 8 years ago

        Only time I OCed was at work. My then-employer had a said Celeron 300MHz running as the newbie-admin training Linux box. When its hard drive gave up the ghost, we cracked it open to find an Asus board with said Celery. Instant upgrade to 450MHz ensued, and there was much amusement.

      • Airmantharp
      • 8 years ago

      I like all of the ‘anti-overclocking’ comments- I find them hilarious. If you’re having real issues with overclocking, you’re doing it wrong :).

      Next, while many people rightly consider 3.0GHz plus on more than two cores to be fast enough, modern games will tell another story. One good example is Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Seeing this game peg a 3.4GHz Intel Penryn-based quad core (faster than any shipping AMD CPU to this day) at 100% in a 32-player game, I realized that I was going to have to shoot for something much higher the next time around.

      Now I have a Sandy Bridge 2500k that runs silently at 4.5GHz, and quite happily at 5.0GHz with a little more juice and tighter screws. And I’d have to say, if you’re building a gaming machine (which Scott obviously was not), shooting for any less would just be silly, given the price.

        • paulWTAMU
        • 8 years ago

        Or you just dont think it’s worth the time/effort to do right, and would rather spend a few tens of dollars on a better CPU/GPU in the first place?

          • Airmantharp
          • 8 years ago

          Consider what you just said (no disrespect intended):

          I have a CPU that runs at 4.5GHz-5.0GHz. The CPU could not have been had for any cheaper; the next step up was at least $100 more. Couldn’t have saved any more, and spending more would have gotten me very little.

          I have what could be considered to be the least-expensive GPU’s that support 2GB of memory for a 2560×1600 display: AMD’s HD6950 2GB’s. I wouldn’t want to go slower with GTX560’s which cost marginally less at 2GB, and also aren’t unlockable, and going faster than an unlocked HD6590 would mean spending over 50% more on GTX580’s with less memory, or spending 100% more to get GTX580’s with 3GB of memory.

          I spend as little as possible, and buy whatever I can used or on sale; and I think I’ve done a pretty good job. So no, spending just a few more dollars would have gotten me nothing, and neither would have spending less.

          I understand the time/effort side of things well- my workstation has been sitting on the bench for over a month, largely due to an OCZ Vertex II failure (never again, thanks). If time or effort is a real consideration, and you still want to build it yourself, then you might make different decisions; but then you might as well just go with a Dell or HP!

            • axeman
            • 8 years ago

            Consider if you’re going to put that much effort into getting your hardware to run that game well, that it just might be a piece of shit that ain’t worth it (the game).

            • Airmantharp
            • 8 years ago

            Sure; but my hardware will run practically *any* game well. I just got the SSD in and Windows properly loaded (including the requisite call to the robot), so it’s only a matter of tidying up the cables on the backside. The front by the way looks amazingly clean.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 8 years ago

          Sure, they’re time is more valuable than the difference between prices in CPUs.

          However, the sentiment is laughable because they act like everyone has that kind of money.

    • Jigar
    • 8 years ago

    Stop showing those case pics. You are tempting me to buy that beautiful thing, have to resist.

      • xtalentx
      • 8 years ago

      I know! I just built my FT03… I don’t need another PC but this case is pure sex.

        • Airmantharp
        • 8 years ago

        They did, and you don’t want it :).

        I’d take a Fortress updated with USB3 and one of Silverston’s fan controllers built in, but I wasn’t ready to pay the price for one when I built my workstation a month ago- though I almost wish I had.

          • xtalentx
          • 8 years ago

          Yeah, I didn’t like paying extra for things that should have been included. I still haven’t bought the shorter cable kit. My PC is all put together and works great. I know it could be cleaner inside but meh…

    • rxc6
    • 8 years ago

    To comment about your statement that putting together a computer now is easier…. to be honest I haven’t found building computers to be too much of a difficulty since 2003. I mean, I didn’t have any hardware problems with my 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2011 builds. I guess that I prefer to go for very stable components in general.

    Software and drivers on the other hand… those are kind of a pain no matter what i do.

    • phez
    • 8 years ago

    The best thing TR has done as of late – the return of 1920×1080 to the reviews 🙂

    • JustAnEngineer
    • 8 years ago

    “Aren’t you a little short for a storm trooper?”

      • irvinenomore
      • 8 years ago

      “Yes but I have overclocked my phaser”

      Sorry, it was too easy.

        • JustAnEngineer
        • 8 years ago

        [quote=”George Lucas”<]LEIA: Aren't you a little short to be a stormtrooper? LUKE: What? Oh...the uniform. I'm Luke Skywalker. I'm here to rescue you. LEIA: You're who? LUKE: I'm here to rescue you. I've got your R2 unit....[/quote<]

          • flip-mode
          • 8 years ago

          LOL.

          • Palek
          • 8 years ago

          [quote<]George Lucas wrote[/quote<] Good stuff 🙂

        • Meadows
        • 8 years ago

        Yes it was, you should’ve gone the less-easy way like JAE just did.

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