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My first build: feedback and suggestions much desired

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
I'm on a quest. And since this forum seems to be full of people enthusiastically sharing this quest of building the best computer I possibly can (pay), I'm hoping to get a lot of feedback and advise here.

This is the very first system I've put together and bought (combined many a system to dream of before :3). I'm very happy with the way it came out, but looking back, I do see some flaws in the choices I've made now. At least I've learned a lot along the way.

Main board: ASRock extreme4-M
Maybe the component I had least experience with, this is the motherboard I chose. What I didn't foresee however, is that the graphics card I chose takes a lot of space around the PCI(e) slots. ASRock markets this board to have 3 PCIe slots, 16x, 8x and 16x. I just moved the graphics card from the top PCIe slot to the middle, to make space for my PCIe SSD card. If that's the 8x slot, should I be noticing a big difference right now?

After moving my video card, it now covers 2/3 PCIe slots and 1/1 PCI slots. I'm beginning to think I should've invested in a bigger board (and still may).

CPU: Intel i7-3930k
One step away from the top of the line 3rd generation i7 CPU's, I figured paying half of the costs for a small compared performance loss was a good choice, and I still do. However, I just noticed that intel states on their website that the processor supports up to PCIe 2.0, and am left wondering if this means my PCIe 3.0 slots and cards (video + SSD) are now used at PCIe 2.0 speeds.

I didn't bother waiting for Haswell, as they were predicted to focus mainly on saving power instead of increasing performance, and I am unwilling to pay a lot of extra money for that gain.

Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 7990
The absolute jewel, overkill and bragging-rights-provider component in my machine. I went into building this system with the idea of making no compromises at all. To that end, I, ardent NVIDIA fan, chose the GeForce GTX 690. When the store told me that option had ceased to exist for some reason, I went with the AMD Radeon HD 7990. Being forced to choose 'plan B' component when it's about such amounts of money left a bad taste in my mouth, also because I loved the way the GTX 690 was designed. However, looking at the card's benchmarks quickly lifted my mood, and now that it's here, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Also, the radeon fills my (red) tower a lot better than the GTX 690's green laser etch lighting thing.

Recently, I opened the case and beheld the card in all its glory, moving it from one PCIe slot to another. I immediately noticed how heavy the thing is, and am amazed it hasn't broken off entirely yet. Is there anyway to secure this better?

Hard drive: Seagate barracuda 3TB 7200rpm
They (my coworkers) told me to go with SSD.. And they were right. Somewhat. In the sense that by this time, I've added one. Initially, I only had this drive, and stressing the computer a bit would at some point drag performance down, task manager showing that the hard drive was losing its shorts trying to keep up. Now I boot from SSD, for the first time in my life, and it smells like gasoline, feels like a brutal engine firing up, and sounds like, well, nothing really.

The 3TB is still nice for data. I was also confused when I first installed and partitioned, that the drive showed as 2 drives, 2TB and 1TB. By now I know my stuff about 2TB+ configurations. tongue.gif

ADATA 120GB SSD
After the drag the barracuda provided, I took back to the shop and got me this SSD drive. I use it purely to run windows 8 from, and picked it for transfer speeds rather than storage space.

And it's bliss.

OCZ RevoDrive 3 240GB PCIe SSD
No compromises. So I'll use this to run my most frequently used applications from.

Conclusion
The full build is in my signature. For any of you enthusiastic and helpful enough to give me some feedback/pointers on what I could improve; I'd be very glad to read it. This post has become a cross breed of a summary of my considerations made when thinking this system out, and a scribbling pad for my current thoughts about the build. There's questions in there too, which I am still looking for an answer to:
  • The video card is very heavy (I don't have numbers). Could this damage the motherboard if I leave it like it is?
  • I moved the video card to the middle PCIe slot. Does this mean it's in the PCIe x8 slot, thus running at lower performance?
  • The CPU apparently supports up to PCIe 2.0. What does this mean for my otherwise PCIe 3.0 build?
  • I'm thinking of adding a large (mostly) passive CPU cooler to replace my noisy cooler. However, this will put extra weight on the motherboard. Is this something to worry about?

All of these questions are ones that answers are very much appreciated to.

Considered improvements
  • The PC has no WLAN card, and LAN goes through the MB. I might be able to increase the speed with an ethernet card, and could add WiFi (and hotspot) capability with a WLAN card. Unfortunately, none of these PCI expansions exist small enough to live underneath my brawny graphics card.
  • Previous issue leads here: I'm not too happy with my MB. Apart from it seeming to have some issues leading me to believe I may have a bad board, and ASRock drivers stirring up some trouble, I'm also short on PCI(e) space.
  • I may add another 16GB of the same RAM, reaching 32GB, the MB's cap. I'd use the extra RAM as expansion for my RAM drive (<3), and it's a relatively cheap and easy expansion.
  • Liquid cooling: I have no experience with this whatsoever, but I -AM- a fan of noise reduction. I'm a bit concerned about radiator spaces on my case, however, and liquid cooling isn't at all cheap (I'd need everything, copperheads, radiator, pump, fan, etc).
  • Alternatively, I may look into other cooling methods.
  • Another Radeon HD 7990 for CrossFire. No, I'm kidding. The motherboard doesn't have space for that.
  • However! (Click to show)
    It would be nice to run in crossfire. Overkill as it is, and I think this might be a rather expensive addition too. But it would mean I could use 12 screens. Which I would in no way be capable of paying for after paying for that card. Or before.

Thanks in advance for taking your time to read this dump of what's kept me busy the past weeks, and probably will for weeks to come! smile.gif Feedback, suggestions and overall opinions (yes, even opinions!) are very much appreciated. Be gentle, I'm just getting started here!
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 3930k ASRock X79 Extreme4-M Club 3D Radeon HD 7990 Corsair 16GB DDR-3 1600MHz 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveHard Drive
WD Re4TB ADATA SSD S511 120GB Samsung 840 EVO 250GB Samsung 840 EVO 250GB 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Noctua NH-D15 Windows 7 Samsung SyncMaster MD230x3 Corsair K95 RGB 
PowerCaseMouseOther
be quiet! Pure Power BQT L7 730W ATX23 Sharkoon T28 red edition ATX Speedlink kudos rs gaming mouse NZXT Sentry LXE 
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 3930k ASRock X79 Extreme4-M Club 3D Radeon HD 7990 Corsair 16GB DDR-3 1600MHz 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveHard Drive
WD Re4TB ADATA SSD S511 120GB Samsung 840 EVO 250GB Samsung 840 EVO 250GB 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Noctua NH-D15 Windows 7 Samsung SyncMaster MD230x3 Corsair K95 RGB 
PowerCaseMouseOther
be quiet! Pure Power BQT L7 730W ATX23 Sharkoon T28 red edition ATX Speedlink kudos rs gaming mouse NZXT Sentry LXE 
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post #2 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtielemans View Post

The full build is in my signature. For any of you enthusiastic and helpful enough to give me some feedback/pointers on what I could improve; I'd be very glad to read it. This post has become a cross breed of a summary of my considerations made when thinking this system out, and a scribbling pad for my current thoughts about the build. There's questions in there too, which I am still looking for an answer to:
  • The video card is very heavy (I don't have numbers). Could this damage the motherboard if I leave it like it is?
  • I moved the video card to the middle PCIe slot. Does this mean it's in the PCIe x8 slot, thus running at lower performance?
  • The CPU apparently supports up to PCIe 2.0. What does this mean for my otherwise PCIe 3.0 build?
  • I'm thinking of adding a large (mostly) passive CPU cooler to replace my noisy cooler. However, this will put extra weight on the motherboard. Is this something to worry about?

All of these questions are ones that answers are very much appreciated to.

Considered improvements
  • The PC has no WLAN card, and LAN goes through the MB. I might be able to increase the speed with an ethernet card, and could add WiFi (and hotspot) capability with a WLAN card. Unfortunately, none of these PCI expansions exist small enough to live underneath my brawny graphics card.
  • Previous issue leads here: I'm not too happy with my MB. Apart from it seeming to have some issues leading me to believe I may have a bad board, and ASRock drivers stirring up some trouble, I'm also short on PCI(e) space.
  • I may add another 16GB of the same RAM, reaching 32GB, the MB's cap. I'd use the extra RAM as expansion for my RAM drive (<3), and it's a relatively cheap and easy expansion.
  • Liquid cooling: I have no experience with this whatsoever, but I -AM- a fan of noise reduction. I'm a bit concerned about radiator spaces on my case, however, and liquid cooling isn't at all cheap (I'd need everything, copperheads, radiator, pump, fan, etc).
  • Alternatively, I may look into other cooling methods.
  • Another Radeon HD 7990 for CrossFire. No, I'm kidding. The motherboard doesn't have space for that.
  • However! (Click to show)
    It would be nice to run in crossfire. Overkill as it is, and I think this might be a rather expensive addition too. But it would mean I could use 12 screens. Which I would in no way be capable of paying for after paying for that card. Or before.

1.) Most likely not, if you have your motherboard properly seated on stand offs. There should be no damage done, it's a motherboard not a piece of paper.
2.) Ideally you would want it in a PCI-E x16 slot, although the differences between x16 and x8 are minimal there is some level of performance loss.
3.) On X79 PCI-E 3.0 is enabled by AMD on default, with an nVidia card you need to do a hack. You should be fine. Use GPU-Z to see if it's running @ 3.0
4.) If you are worried about noise but want optimal cooling. You need to go with an AIO water cooling solution. I really don't think using a passive (fanless) heatsink solution on a Sandy Bridge-E processor is a great idea; especially if you want to do any overclocking. Look into Corsair H80i or Swiftech H220. Easy to install, very reliable, will provide decent temps @ 4.4-4.5GHz overclock. Will also be very quiet especially with custom fan profile.

1) With ASRock XFast Lan, I really doubt you will see that many improvements in speed with a secondary Lan Card. Trying to get Wifi is a different story, but there are plenty of decent USB Wifi adapters available.

2) Probably want to update the Bios to newest version, if there is a Beta Bios that might be a good idea. Also make sure you get all the newest drivers/utilities for your board off the ASRock website. After doing that, then see if your concerns with issues still exist. Very important to keep these things up-to-date before you make any assumptions about the board. What I dont really understand is why you went with a Micro-ATX motherboard when your case is ATX compatible. Your lack of space is because it's a Micro-ATX board. That could have been fixed if you purchased a regular ATX motherboard. The ASRock X79 Extreme6 is a great choice, if you want to spend a little more money ASRock Fatal1ty X79 Professional is another option. This will provide you with plenty of space and give you the extra support you need.

3) Only reasoning to add extra ram would be for a RamDisk (ram drive). You will see serious performance increases on a Ram Disk using faster frequency memory (higher speed). So optimally it might be better to look into a different kit altogether if this is what you are looking to do. Some G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 32GB 2400MHz memory runs @ about $269.99. A lot faster than your 1600MHz memory. So you will see some definite performance increases all around on your computer, especially with the RamDisk.

4) The beauty of today is that even the biggest newb can have some sort of Liquid Cooling solution on their processor without much of a hassle. There are plenty of All-in-One water cooling units at your disposal to use. They perform great, generally better than most Air Coolers. They areeasy to install as well as maintain. Their prices aren't too bad either. Generally in the $100ish range. Some models to look at; Corsair H80i, H100i, H110, NZXT Kraken X60 or X40, and the Swiftech H220.

Hope this helps. thumb.gif
Edited by BiG StroOnZ - 6/16/13 at 6:13pm
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
Thanks a heap for your reply! I'd never dreamed anyone would be willing to give such thorough and well-aimed advise, and this is definitely helping me a lot.

I ran CPU-Z and it tells me the board is running in PCIe x16. Intel's website statement must be outdated.

On the point of micro-ATX: because I simply didn't notice until you mention it now smile.gif I figured the board had all I needed, so I got it. Replacing the board is definitely becoming a plausible near-future option!

Thanks a lot again for your detailed reply!
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 3930k ASRock X79 Extreme4-M Club 3D Radeon HD 7990 Corsair 16GB DDR-3 1600MHz 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveHard Drive
WD Re4TB ADATA SSD S511 120GB Samsung 840 EVO 250GB Samsung 840 EVO 250GB 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Noctua NH-D15 Windows 7 Samsung SyncMaster MD230x3 Corsair K95 RGB 
PowerCaseMouseOther
be quiet! Pure Power BQT L7 730W ATX23 Sharkoon T28 red edition ATX Speedlink kudos rs gaming mouse NZXT Sentry LXE 
  hide details  
Reply
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 3930k ASRock X79 Extreme4-M Club 3D Radeon HD 7990 Corsair 16GB DDR-3 1600MHz 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveHard Drive
WD Re4TB ADATA SSD S511 120GB Samsung 840 EVO 250GB Samsung 840 EVO 250GB 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Noctua NH-D15 Windows 7 Samsung SyncMaster MD230x3 Corsair K95 RGB 
PowerCaseMouseOther
be quiet! Pure Power BQT L7 730W ATX23 Sharkoon T28 red edition ATX Speedlink kudos rs gaming mouse NZXT Sentry LXE 
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post #4 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtielemans View Post

Thanks a heap for your reply! I'd never dreamed anyone would be willing to give such thorough and well-aimed advise, and this is definitely helping me a lot.

I ran CPU-Z and it tells me the board is running in PCIe x16. Intel's website statement must be outdated.

On the point of micro-ATX: because I simply didn't notice until you mention it now smile.gif I figured the board had all I needed, so I got it. Replacing the board is definitely becoming a plausible near-future option!

Thanks a lot again for your detailed reply!

No problem, figured I would help answer your questions. It doesn't bother me most people just dont have the patience for detailed posts like yours.

I do not think Intel's website is outdated, what you were reading when you saw "16x, 8x and 16x" is that is what it runs at when all three PCI-E slots are occupied by video cards. All three PCI-E slots are x16. However, looking at your motherboard when all three are occupied it actually runs at "16x, 16x, 8x." So where you got your information might be innacurate.

The board is not bad by any means, but they are specifically used for small form factor builds. Like a "Lan Box" or people who like having smaller sized rigs because they lack the available space. They are usually used for Mini-Towers or Micro-Towers. Not a Mid-Tower sized case like yours.

Glad my reply helped you thumb.gif
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