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The "Kremlin"

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I decided to make a build log for my PC at the request of a friend here on OCN and to help me keep track of the upgrades I’ve made over the years.

It isn't the most extreme system out there and it isn’t too fancy, especially compared to the other rigs you see around this forum, but it has always worked for me and run everything I’ve thrown at it.

Before we begin, here’s the story behind the name of the thread:
I sold the desk that you can see in a few of the pictures below on Craigslist, and the guy who bought it from me was really taken aback by my computer, saying that it was “huge” and “looked like the Kremlin”. I’m still not entirely sure what to make of that comment kookoo.gif, but I kind of like the term somehow and its stuck in my mind. rolleyes.gif


This build has three main phases (so far), based on the CPU/motherboard.


PHASE I (Unit 00 – the Prototype) [2007 – 2010]
(C2D E8500 + P5Q Pro)

This was my original build. I purchased all of these parts on Black Friday in my sophomore year of college (November of 2007).

Here’s the initial parts list (I think it cost around $700):
- CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 (E0 stepping)
- Motherboard: ASUS P5Q Pro (LGA 775, P45 chipset)
- RAM: OCZ 2x2GB DDR2 Fatal1ty edition
- GPU: Sapphire HD4850 (512MB)
- HDD: WD Blue 640GB
- PSU: OCZ 600W ModXStream-Pro
- Case: A generic silver Rosewill case (ATX Mid Tower)

I bought all of these parts based on the recommendations of a close friend who had built his own computer from very similar parts about a month prior. He also helped me put it together. I already had a set of speakers (Logitech Z-4, which I still use) and a Samsung 1680x1050 monitor that I was using with my Dell laptop.

An important note about this build is my selection of what I know consider to be a very ugly case: I picked it because it was cheap and silver with blue LEDs. I wanted to get something that would at least look different than the typically black colored custom PC builds and really like the color silver paired with blue. So the color combination is very cool to me, but now I think the design is pretty bad, especially the front panel.

Unfortunately, most of my pictures of this build were taken with my atrocious 1 megapixel camera phone, but here are the pictures I have of it. Be sure to have a waste-pail nearby as your observe the horrendous picture quality: Warning: Ugly pictures imminent! (Click to show)







I know these pictures are hard to make out, but I'm pretty sure they're of computer parts. tongue.gif

This build was upgraded to a second 4850 (the ASUS Top edition). My roommate at the time got a similar system shortly after I built mine (although it was a pre-built from I believe HP) and he bought the ASUS 4850 to go in his rig. For whatever reason, his computer did not run the card at all, but it ran fine in mine. So I bought his 4850 from him to run in Crossfire, and he bought the same Sapphire 4850 I had and it worked perfectly for him.

I also added a Creative X-Fi Titanium to my build, which I still use, and an SSD (OCZ Vertex 1, 60GB).

It was around this stage that I also first tried my hand at overclocking. I had read some pretty good info on how to do it online and blissfully ramped up the FSB, set Prime95 and went off to a movie. However, I made the noobish mistake of using the stock cooler. So when I got back from the movie, the CPU was running at over 100 C (!), but still running Prime95 without any errors. That E8500 was a beast.
devil.gif

This computer stayed pretty much unchanged for a few years until I moved to a new state and got a job in Fall 2010 that allowed me to do some upgrades…


PHASE II (Unit 01 – the Test-Type) [2010-2014]
(C2Q Q9550 + ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe)

I decided to do a pretty major overhaul, but keep the base components the same to keep costs down since the Core 2 Duo was still doing well for games at the time. But here is a list of new parts that I initially purchased:
- Case: Cooler Master ATCS 840 (ATX Full Tower)
- Monitor: ASUS ML238H 23” 1920x1080
- PSU: Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 1000W
- CPU Cooler: Cosair H70
- GPU: ASUS HD6970

This time around, I wanted to get a full tower case because the Rosewill mid-tower simply felt too cramped, and I also wanted to get something with a more refined style, even if it was black. I considered a silver ThermalTake Armor II, but the ATCS was cheaper and simply looked better. I now consider this case one of my better “investments” because it looks great and has tons of room (and it isn’t too popular, so I don’t feel like I have the same case as everyone else).

I was happy with my experience with the 4850s, so I decided to go for the then top-of-the-line AMD 6970. The card was a beast, but it also ran very hot and the stock cooler was very loud (as others can attest). I initially tried to cool it with an aftermarket air cooler from Arctic Cooling, but the cooler that Newegg sent me was defective in some way so that it wouldn’t mount right. So I basically dealt with the noise by getting a set of headphones and playing games with those.

Here are pictures from the transition from my old case to the new (somewhat better quality): Warning: Now dubious quality pictures! (Click to show)


(The ATCS 840 has exactly twice the internal volume as my old Rosewill case.)



(Hallelujah, motherboard trays!)

(I still had the 4850s for the moment, the Sapphire one is shown on the mobo.)


(Cheez-It box for scale.)

(New monitor next to the old one.)

And now the 6970 has arrived!


(The smaller card is a Radeon VE that my cousin had. I had to run it for about a week until the 6970 arrived.)

I also played around with hybrid PhysX using an ASUS GTX460 DirectCUII.


The next Christmas I got a better quality camera, so here are some decent pictures at last: Warning: At last somewhat decent pictures! (Click to show)

Closer...

Closer......

Closest!


Some astute observers may have noticed that the RAM has changed. I replaced the OCZ sticks...

...with some faster (and more plentiful) Corsair Dominators:

The two 4850s, the case, the PSU and the monitor were all sold to my cousin which he paired with an Athlon II X2 and are still running in that build, although the CPU is now a Trinity APU, I believe.


Around this time I started frequenting OCN more often and joined the forum. I also was able to play with overclocking at a higher level that was now attainable with the H70.

This actually build lasted for about a year and a half until I found a better ASUS board and a Core 2 Quad on the local Craigslist.

At the same time, I decided that this would be a good opportunity to build a custom water loop, so I bought the XSPC Raystorm RX360 Extreme Kit:
- CPU block: XSPC Raystorm
- Pump: Alphacool VPP655
- Main Rad: XSPC RX360 (3 x 120mm)

I also bought an XSPC EX240 (2 x 120mm) as a secondary rad, an AquaComputer 6970 GPU block from a fellow OCN user, and a matching ASUS 6970 already attached with an EK waterblock.

So now my PC looked like this, and “Unit 01” was complete (this was now April of 2012):
- CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 (C1 stepping)
- Motherboard: ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe (LGA 775, P45 chipset)
- RAM: Kingston HyperX 2x4GB DDR3
- GPU: ASUS HD6970 (2x)
- HDD: Samsung 830 128GB
- PSU: CoolerMaster Silent Pro Gold 1000W
- Case: CoolerMaster ATCS 840

Here are some more pictures: Warning: More pictures! (Click to show)
Took this time to take some pictures of the old parts before they were sold:


Still had the OCZ RAM too:


And here's what the motherboard looked like after I bought it from Craigslist:


(The wonderful Q9550. Unfortunately it was a C1 stepping and wasn't able to reach 4GHz. sad-smiley-002.gif)

The Samsung 830 SSD (brushed aluminum top, nice touch):

Installing the GPU block:

Block attached and cards ready to go!

The stock coolers. ASUS made theirs out of aluminum, while other venders had plastic ones. I always thought that was a nice touch.

Pump ready to go:

Motherboard and top radiator installed:

And its all together!



(This second rad was a tight fit.)

As you can see, the two GPU blocks were not an exact match, which was a massive pain, but I was able to make it work.


Now having two 6970s, I became interested in Eyefinity, and I slowly bought additional monitors as funds allowed. I was able to get a matching ASUS ML238H monitor as my second, but by the time I bought the third the ML238H was discontinued and over-priced on Ebay. So I found a different model which I thought had the same panel, but was slightly different. But the colors were close enough after some tweaking that I was happy with it.
Warning: My only picture of my Eyefinity monitors?! And its such bad quality too... (Click to show)

This build also lasted me for some time, until I started getting tired of the triple monitors. Multi-tasking on multiple monitors is great, but I felt like I wasn’t using most of the screen real estate and game support was still hit-and-miss. It was around this time that people were going crazy over those ~$300 1400p Korean IPS monitors you can still find on Ebay. I was apprehensive of getting a monitor from overseas, in case something happened in which I needed the warranty, so I found the same panel in a monitor from Monoprice, which I got on sale for around $350 in July of 2013. So the 5760x1080 Eyefinity setup was replaced with a single 2560x1440 IPS monitor, and I’ve been very happy with the results for my uses.
Edited by jetpak12 - 5/28/14 at 9:55pm
post #2 of 5
Thread Starter 
PHASE III (Unit 02 – the Production-Type) [In Progress]
(Westmere Xeon X5650 + ASUS P6T)

This year, my socket 775 platform began to get very long in the tooth. However, I haven’t had a stable income for the past year, so I needed an upgrade that I would be able to afford by selling off my old parts. So I began to sell off my 6970s and look for something to get. I decided to go for an X58 system, but I knew that I’d have to get Westmere if I wanted my upgrade to feel like an actual upgrade instead of a side-grade, so I found a hex-core Xeon for a fraction of the cost of a 970/980/990.

Altogether, these parts came to about $200:
- Motherboard: ASUS P6T Deluxe V1
- CPU: Xeon X5650 (2.67 stock)
- RAM: a third Kingston HyperX 4GB DDR3 stick to match existing two.

Can you tell I’m a fan of ASUS motherboards yet? wink.gif

I also bought an Nvidia GT640 just for fun, since it was a decent price ($65 new). I basically wanted to get the best performing single-slot GPU for hybrid PhysX and as a low-power BOINC cruncher. It pulls less than 50W and runs almost as well as the GTX460, which is what I was hoping to match. My 6970s are sold, so its currently my only card. redface.gif

Here are some pictures of the transplantation: Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
To be added soon. tongue.gif

I’ve now had this build for about a week, and am working on a stable OC. I am currently at 3700 MHz (185MHz x 20 multi), but I’m aiming for over 4 GHz, something I wasn’t able to achieve with my Core 2 Quad.

Current OC: http://valid.x86.fr/ji3cep Turbo puts me over 4GHz! wheee.gif


Current Plans:
As I have sold my two 6970s, I’m now looking for a single 290(X), which I think should hold me over for another two GPU generations or so. Maybe crossfire in the distant future.

I'm also looking to sell my P5Q3 Deluxe board. The Q9550 I am keeping to put in my parents computer (which they never use) to replace a C2D Pentium. It also has the GTX460 in it that I bought way back for hybrid PhysX.


Final (?!) Word
And this is my ever-evolving build. It’s not too special compared to the other builds you see on OCN, but I’ve been very happy with all the parts I’ve bought over the years. Sorry if it’s a lot to read, but I have trouble with being succinct at times. redface.gif Let me know if you have any questions and thanks for reading!

biggrin.gif
Edited by jetpak12 - 5/28/14 at 9:42pm
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
I'll post some of the benchmarks and OC milestones I've done over the years here.


I'll also add a picture of myself. Computers are a big passion in my life, but cycling (both human powered and motorized) is something I enjoy doing even more. Here's a picture of me and my dad (he took the picture) on the Continental Divide Trail near Grants, NM. The peak in the background is just over 11,000 ft. Warning: Me! (Click to show)

Edited by jetpak12 - 5/28/14 at 9:54pm
post #4 of 5
This looks great, jetpak!

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CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
i7 4790k delid 5ghz ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero BIOS 1603 EVGA 1080ti FTW3 2012/5805 MHz EVGA 1080ti FTW3 2012/5805 MHz 
RAMHard DriveHard DriveHard Drive
8GB G.SKILL TridentX 2666mhz 10-12-12-31 2T 1.7v Samsung 840 Evo 256GB SATA 3 2TB WD Black 7200rpm SATA 3 (Games) 4TB WD Blue 5400rpm SATA 3 (Media) 
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Lite-on 20x DVD-RW/BD-ROM Corsair H100i V2 + PK-3 Nano Corsair SP120s red LED (radiator) Corsair SP140 red LED 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1 3x ASUS VC239H IPS Slim Bezel Eyefinity Ducky DKC-1008 "Overclock.net Edition" w/ dampe... Cooler Master V1000 
CaseMouseMouse PadAudio
Corsair 780T (Black- painted red fan grills) ZELOTES T-90 Corsair Polaris Creative SupremeFX onboard 
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Logitech + Turtle Beach amp Custom acrylic PSU cover "Big Red" (v1tech) Custom acrylic drive cage cover "Folding@Home" ... Merax Racing Chair (Red/Black) 
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Corsair K70 LUX red LED keyboard (Cherry MX Red) 
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Western Digital Caviar Blue 320gb Samsung 850 Evo 256gb Corsair H60 Win10 Home 
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Cooler Master Thermaltake GAMMA 
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WD Caviar Blue Lite On DVD-RW Cooler Master TX3 Corsair SP120 Exhaust 
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post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Update incoming! thumb.gif

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