CAD Build, bonestonne's first i7

Show off your quiet rig.

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CAD Build, bonestonne's first i7

Post by bonestonne » Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:34 pm

I've only gotten brief chances to really work with i7's before, so this was my first chance to sit in front of it and really learn what their power is.

Decided to go SPCR style on this one, and refused to run with all stock components.

Antec 1200 (I wanted the P183, but that didn't happen)
Core i7 960
GEIL 6gb DDR3-1600 (Was originally Patriot, but that was a set of bad RAM)
Gigabyte X58A-UD5 Rev 2.0
Enermax Pro87 600W
Western Digital 600GB Velociraptor SATA3
ATI FirePro V4800
Scythe Ninja 3

Massive (MASSIVE) build. Antec 1200 is a monster. Easily the largest case I've had to work with so far (similar in size to Dell XPS computers).

Build went very easily, very straightforward, lots of routing options for cabling to go behind the motherboard tray, but the gap is too small for me. With such a wide case, I would expect there to be more room behind the mobo tray for routing cables.

As for the pictures, I build the computer over a couple days, so I'll include the highlights. Any questions/comments are more than welcome. I'm not going to have a chance to really work on this build ever again, so I made it as clean as possible.

What would I change about this case?

Easy, I would make it a little bit shorter, as there's easily a full inch that could be chopped off without a problem. I would also make the fan speed switches for the top/rear fans way more accessible. I think in their current positioning on the rear of the case it's pretty useless. Sure, I have the fans set to low, and have no reason to suspect they will ever be changed. The fans are quiet as they need to be on the low setting, and enough air is moving through the case to make me happy with it's performance. But if I were a gamer running an overclocked computer, if I wanted to change fan speeds on the fly, I wouldn't want to have to crawl under the desk, or move the case to do so. If it had an external water cooling setup, moving the case would be a major problem, but it's tall enough as-is. The top of the case has a tray thing going on, the fan switches could easily be put on the back of that for better accessibility.

I would also put a foam insert on that 5.25" to 3.5" bay adapter. In fact, I did, as you will read later on. No point in putting filters in front of the fans and closing off the other bays if you're just going to let all the dust come in with this bay adapter.

I ended up rotating the rear fans 90 degrees, so the cables could route to behind the motherboard tray more easily, and I'm sure the factory could do this themselves. I know I'm nitpicky, but this is a big investment for a case, I shouldn't have to be dealing with this.

As I said before, there just isn't enough space between the back side panel and the motherboard tray to route cables. I did my best using a mix of the included plastic ties, zip ties, and standard twist ties to keep all the cables hidden away. While I could have gotten a modular power supply (and probably should have) it just didn't happen. Once again, with such an investment into the case, it shouldn't be geared to just modular power supplies, I should be able to tuck things away "behind the scenes" without these problems. The rear side panel has a slight bulge to it, but I can tell you with complete certainty, it's not going to have a rattle to it now!

Biggest/Best mod in the case:

5.25" to 3.5" external adapter plate had no foam in it to stop dust, I cut the foam from the removed bracket to fit in here, hopefully this will prevent dust from entering.

Pics: ... G_9093.JPG
^The ugly side. This is not how the cables were finally routed, but an idea of how little room there is in the back of this case. ... G_9119.JPG
^5.25" to 3.5" mod. The lower cut is a little sloppy, but it's a whole lot better than nothing. ... G_9107.JPG
^Rear of the build. Nothing much to see here, but this thing has connections for nearly everything. Definitely good enough. You can see that the fans were rotated, but nothing special here. The grills are definitely breathable enough. Much more so than many other cases on the market. ... G_9086.JPG
^Base of the Scythe Ninja 3. Very smooth, but not well polished. It's got a mirror finish, but you can see how the machining process went. I doubt it has any impact on it's cooling potential, but just noticeable. Massive cooler, but very standard. More thoughts on this one later on. ... G_9117.JPG
^End result. Yes, that is a Floppy cable. I tried to route it as neatly as possible. No, I didn't put it in by choice, and yes, I would love to rip it out. Other than that, it's a done deal.

Other thoughts:

The Enermax Pro87 600W power supply is very stable, well built, and has LONG cables. I had no problem reaching around the back of the motherboard tray to plug into the P4 (I guess now P8 ) Connector. There was plenty of slack as well. Very quiet power supply, as the shop was very quiet while I was building this. It's got a nice finish, and I have no complaints about how well it works. If it were modular, I would be a whole lot happier, but the build works, and that's what matters.

The Scythe Ninja Rev 3 is a pretty fair cooler. I would not call it perfect, I would not mind having one for myself, but I do have one big beef with it. This cooler is an absolute NIGHTMARE to mount. While installing this on a Gigabyte X58A-UD5, I wish I had a third or fourth hand to do it with. My best advice is to get just about all of the mounting components put together on the heatsink side first, and put the backplate in place, and run the screws through the board LAST. Do this in any other order and you'll struggle a lot. It took me nearly 30 minutes to get the cooler on because I made this mistake. Don't be stupid when you mount it like I was.

The Gigabyte X58A-UD5 is a truly amazing motherboard, and has plenty of space for a large cooler. The MOSFET and VRM cooling is not obtrusive to other components, although it does make it difficult to put aftermarket bolt-thru kits on. The lower left mounting hole is very crowded, but when there's a will, there's a way. Take your time or you will damage this board.
I also give it a +1 because it uses all solid state capacitors, it uses a Texas Instruments Firewire chipset, and has 10 side mounted SATA ports. I'm not saying most users will need more than 4 or 5, but it's got 10 for you. The cooling on the board is decent, but it is not great. It does not allow for a whole lot of airflow to help cool it, and I think Gigabyte could have done a lot better on this part. I don't want to see the chipsets go bad from heat over time, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did, even in this case, with this cooling. I know chipsets have a high TDP, but that doesn't mean they aren't immune to high temps damaging them over the long haul. I would easily recommend this board to someone, but I would definitely include everything I just said, because everything has it's problems, and system builders should know everything when they start, not have to learn it while putting the mess together.

The Core i7 960 is a absolute beast. I cannot think of a single reason why anyone could possibly need this, no matter how many tabs you have open at a time. A Core 2 Quad is MORE THAN ENOUGH. The entire Core i7 platform is a weird mess to me. Triple channel RAM is a plus in some respects, but in all honesty, once you're running 8gb of RAM, how much more do you really need? I've done 16 channel recording sessions at 96kHz, and the system in my sig is plenty for it. In fact, I've never managed to find something it can't do. Sure, there's HD Video Editing, but that's a specialty market in it's own. Yes, this computer will be used for CAD design, but I do not think the average facebook users needs anything close to this kind of power. Do the world a favor and buy an Atom based rig. Farmville will work just fine with it.

That said, I appreciate the power of computers at this point. I know I'm not as old as some of the old timers here, and the oldest computer I've worked with is a Pentium II Xeon, but comparing the computers I work on today to the first computer I owned, an HP 7915, with a 1.1Ghz Intel Celeron inside, high strides have been made. Being young, I can say I hope to see optics come in and take computers even farther, but an important question to ask is how much do we need it? Power supply efficiencies are going up, yes, but do we need Kilowatt power supplies? Much less something more than that? The biggest leap of faith for computers would be finding a way to make even the most intense games run on something more forgiving for the environment, as well as finding a way to make use of the millions of computers people decide to upgrade and throw away every year. I'm 19, I'm growing up during this insane upgrade-crazed, computer based age, and I'm given the chance to say that I will hopefully see what the world is like in 10, 25, and even 50 years from now. The futuristic world that was though of 40 and 50 years ago does not exist yet, we still need to fix problems, and mineral dependencies, but where does it start?

That being said, this build is almost done, and hopefully the buyer will enjoy it.

As I said, questions and comments are more than welcome, I have tons more pictures, but most are repetitive, I will slowly put them in, as I think I've done a good job of showing what the rig looks like.

Next up will be an Antec LanBoy Air build hopefully soon.

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Post by BlackWhizz » Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:02 pm

I still think the 1200 isnt the right case for silence. That gigabyte board has more than enough cooling power for a lowr air flow situation. So is the ninja.

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Post by ame » Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:51 am

Nice CAD build.

I'm curious , wouldn't it be better going with a Quadro FX card over the ATI Fire pro?

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Post by Fayd » Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:18 pm

could have relatively easily snaked the floppy cable underneath the motherboard.

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Post by bonestonne » Tue Aug 24, 2010 5:26 am

I would have routed the floppy cable behind the motherboard, however there isn't actually enough room. If you can't really tell from the pictures, the cable is not flat against the motherboard tray or able to be pressed flat. The only way to change this would be pulling out a drive tray with front fan, and moving it up, and moving the floppy drive itself halfway down the case. As I have a few more days, I may go this route, but it is overkill at the moment.

I also didn't want to route the cable directly under the motherboard because of an experience ntavlas had with a front panel display and it's parallel cable running under the motherboard:


I'm not sure how it would affect the floppy drive if it were ever used, and as I'm not about to look for a floppy to try it out, as no other shop computers up and running have floppies, it is what it is.

As for a small update:

I was running Unigine Heaven 3d benchmark in Windows XP x64, getting absolutely terrible results. I had much higher expectations for the FirePro V4800, specifically more than averaging 37FPS. Testing a Windows 7 install while I have the time...

Aside from that (which I would expect to be caused by Windows XP), the computer is running very well. Off to work on it...

(I think I will drop the floppy, it feels like it'll look neater)

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Post by theoryzero » Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:55 pm

I'm thinking about getting the Firepro V4800 for it's 10-bit color ability to use with Photoshop CS5. However that little fan on a single height card has me worried. How noisy is it?

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Post by bonestonne » Sat Aug 28, 2010 8:24 pm

Even under extreme load, I haven't heard the fan really speed up. I have tweaked the rig many many times to get it running perfectly, and I have put it under stress tests for hours at a time. Even when running 3D benchmarking, the single slot cooler remains very quiet. I would not call it silent, but it has never ramped up to unbearable speeds at this point.

I will say I expected better from it, for example, if I run the Unigine Heaven 3D Benchmark, the average FPS was in the low 30's with reasonable quality settings (windowed view, nothing maxed out, but medium or high-medium setings). I do believe the ATI 4850 that I have is a little better than this, but I do not remember offhand what my benchmarks were, and haven't had my tower on in at least a couple weeks (laptops get me through on a daily basis with lower power usage).

But from a noise aspect, it seems to cool very well, and not have problems. It does not ramp up under stressed usage regardless of the stress levels. It's a good card, but it's performance is somewhat sub-par for the type of card it is (workstation oriented).

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