[Build log] Hubble: a Node 304 Skylake build - Overclock.net - An Overclocking Community

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[Build log] Hubble: a Node 304 Skylake build

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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-19-2015, 01:08 PM - Thread Starter
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I've been using a late-2008 15" MacBook Pro for the past 7 years. The machine performed beautifully throughout college, at times dual-booting into Windows and/or running the Windows partition in a VM for certain Windows-specific applications. However, it's been painfully slow of late, probably due to it's 4gb of RAM and core 2 duo processor.

I've wanted to upgrade for a couple years now, and considered everything from an iMac to a Chrome Book. Since I've graduated from college, I no longer require the portability of a laptop, and I've got an iPad for all my couch-computing needs, so I discarded that idea. The 27" retina iMacs are gorgeous, but they just don't have the bang-for-the-buck I'm looking for.

The best possible solution seems to be to build myself a PC! I've also managed to set aside the funds required to build a machine without much compromise.


It's new-PC time, baby!


The only other PC I've built myself was a budget-oriented HTPC that's been living under my TV for a few years now, and recently moved into the closet behind the TV. It serves as a Plex Media Server streaming content to the iPad, as a file server pushing content to our laptops, as a Netflix client, and as a Spotify player. It's low powered Celeron processor has been performing beautifully and has handled everything I've thrown at it with ease!

We've affectionately named the HTPC Houston - because saying "Houston, we have a problem" whenever something doesn't work is awesome.

With this in mind, I've decided to name my new PC...



Hopefully I'll get Steam In-Home Streaming setup and can have Hubble stream images to Houston - hehe.


Parts list

Here's the plan with regards to parts. Everything was purchased from NewEgg.ca, except for the monitor (NCIX.com) and the Node 304 (eBay). All prices are in CAD, before taxes.

Update: I returned the Gigabyte motherboard since it was defective, and ordered an ASUS Z170i Pro Gaming from NCIX to replace it.

2612043 Intel i7-6700K 500$
2612044 Corsair Hydro Series H90 115$
2612045 GIGABYTE GA-Z170N-WIFI 195$
13-132-641-TS?$S640$ ASUS Z170i Pro Gaming 224$
2612046 HyperX Fury 2x8GB DDR4 130$
2612047 Samsung 850 EVO 500GB 225$
2612048 Gigabyte R9 390 420$
2612049 Fractal Design Node 304 90$
2612050 Silverstone SFX SX600-G 160$
2612051 BenQ 27" 1440p IPS 430$
Total: 2294$


Goals with this build

Color scheme

As you may have noticed, I'm going for a black color scheme. This might seem useless since the Node 304 doesn't have a window, however I plan on putting in a window eventually - more on that later.

To keep with the black aesthetic, I'll be spray-painting the Silverstone PSU's adapter bracket once I make sure everything is functional. I also won't be using the Node 304's white hard drive brackets.

The only other non-black component is the "Windforce" logo on the R9 390, which is light blue. I think it'll look great on it's own, and I'll be able to bring in more light blue if I ever put in a custom water loop.

Cable management

I want the cable management to be as good as it can possibly be with a Node 304. I plan on routing as many cables as possible in the space under the PSU and under the motherboard.

Overclocking

I've never overclocked before, and am curious to see what kind of extra performance I can squeeze out of the CPU and GPU!

Modding

I plan on adding an acrylic window to the case. I've seen 2 examples of people who have done this, and I think it looks awesome:

I might try and go 1 step further and replace the whole top panel with acrylic, or even replace 2 sides of the case with acrylic.

Gaming

Saying my 7 year old MacBook Pro wasn't up to snuff for gaming is an understatement. In anticipation of finally having a proper PC, I've been building up my Steam library with sales. Here's a sampling of what I'll be playing in the next few months, in no particular order:

  • Borderlands 2
  • Crysis 2
  • Far Cry 3
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  • Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag
  • Bioshock
  • Bioshock 2
  • Bioshock Infinite
  • XCOM: Enemy Within
  • Machinarium
  • Hotline Miami


I'm also looking forward to picking up a few more light indie games to play on my TV via Steam In-Home Streaming. I'm considering picking up a Steam Controller and will be watching reviews now that it's out in the wild!

Web development and graphic design

I've stopped/put off work on all of my personal projects in the past few months because working on my old laptop is painfully inefficient. Looking forward to working on a much more powerful machine!


To do

Acquire all pieces
I've waited for the release of the Gigabyte GA-Z170N-WIFI motherboard for over a month, and when NewEgg.ca finally had it in stock, it shipped from Los Angeles. It's taken Purolator almost 2 weeks to get it to me in Quebec city. Hopefully my girlfriend gets home before they try and deliver it today!
Test all parts
Have to make sure everything works before we start putting stuff into the case
Build PC in case
With special attention paid to cable management.
Overclock the GPU
GPU overclock is done! Nothing incredible since the card is voltage locked, but a modest performance gain nonetheless.
Overclock the CPU
Original motherboard would throttle the CPU even on stock settings. New motherboard should allow me to overclock!
Spray paint the Build a custom ATX->SFX PSU bracket
I think I'm going to build a custom bracket, so I can offset the PSU completely to one side, which should facilitate cable management a little.
Plasti-dip the motherboard heatsinks
The new motherboard works a lot better than the old one, but it has ugly red accents on the heatsinks. I'm planning on plasti-dip so I can always peel it off if I encounter problems and need to RMA it.
Custom acrylic PSU cover
Have started buying parts, not 100% certain on the design of this thing.
Build a proper desk
I'm currently using a dining table as a desk. It's not ideal.
Add a window to the case
This will require some planning, and probably the purchase of a Dremel - yay!
Custom water cooling
I'd love to do this, but it'll depend on the costs and my finances.


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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-19-2015, 01:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Cumulative updates post

I'll be putting my updates in new posts, but also adding them to this post so it's easier for anyone wanting to catch up!



Some component shots!

The Node 304, in all it's naked beauty - it looks so roomy without anything installed and with the drive cages removed!




The Silverstone SX600-G, with the mess of cables that'll be coming out of it.




A bunch of component boxes, not much else to say!




The Gigabyte GA-Z170N-WIFI motherboard! It took a while to get here, but I'm sure glad I waited for it. I love the black color scheme, and massive props to Gigabyte for including a black IO-shield and two black SATA cables.




The Gigabyte R9 390. It looks super slick. I'm still surprised how large and hefty it is. Not sure why Gigabyte decided to include a white sticker on the back... Probably take that off eventually.






Photos of the build

Some nice shots overview pics.




I router the front fans to the fan controller through one of the case beams. I didn't even need to tape them in or anything, they stay in place on their own!




I router the 24-pin cable under the PSU, and the 4-pin cable under the motherboard.




The SSD currently sits on top of the PSU, and there is just enough room to route the SATA data and power cables behind the PSU and under the front fans.




And here's the non-existent clearance between the H90's radiator and the Gigabyte R9 390's backplate.






GPU overclocking results!

I ended up using MSI Afterburner for setting my overclock, with Unigine Heaven looping in the background to check for stability.

My final settings were:
  • Core Voltage: +0mV (the Gigabyte R9 390 is voltage locked)
  • Power Limit: +50%
  • Core Clock: 1,100 MHz (up from a stock clock of 1025MHz)
  • Memory Clock: 1,600MHz (up from a stock clock of 1500MHz)

Pushing the Core Clock to 1,110 MHz was almost stable, but a few artifacts appeared near the end of the benchmark so I dialed it back to 1,100 MHz. Same for the Memory Clock, pushing it to 1,650 causes major glitches.


This gave me the following results in Unigine Heaven (1080p, 8xAA, Windowed, Ultra Quality, Extreme Tesselation):
  • Stock: 1405 (25.9min, 55.8avg, 111.8max FPS) Screenshot
  • OC: 1480 (30.7min, 58.7avg, 117.9max FPS) Screenshot

And the following scores in 3DMark Fire Strike (comparison here):
  • Stock: 10499
  • OC: 11107

I think I'm satisfied with these results. It seems like I was able to squeeze out a 5-7% performance increase!




2015/11/17 - Fixing the CPU throttling problem...

What's a build log if there are no problems, right? Right? frown.gif

With the i7-6700K at stock settings (no overclock) and the Gigabyte GA-Z170N-WIFI motherboard, after a couple minutes of running x264 or Prime95, the CPU would start to throttle from 4GHz to 800Mhz. This is obviously far from ideal.

After some digging, I found a tool called ThrottleStop that has the option to disable "BD PROCHOT" (Bi-Directional Processor Hot). This is a feature that allows the motherboard to tell the CPU to throttle.

After disabling BD PROCHOT, the processor would no longer throttle - instead, the PC would turn off (no blue screen, nothing) after a couple minutes of Prime95 Small FFTs.

My theory is that, because the VRMs on the Gigabyte motherboard do no have heatsinks, they overheat and the motherboard tells the CPU to throttle to reduce the load on the VRMs. When I disabled BD PROCHOT, the motherboard was no longer able to tell the CPU to throttle, and thus the VRMs would continue to heat up, eventually hitting their thermal cut off and simply shutting down.

After 2 weeks of back and forth with Gigabyte's eSupport*, they were unable to resolve my issue and ended the conversation by simply saying I should RMA it...

I suppose it is possible I got a defective unit, but I did not want my computer to be out of commission for another 2 weeks while I ship the motherboard back to NewEgg, wait for them to process it, and then wait for the new board. Instead, I ordered a new board which arrived the same day I shipped out the Gigabyte board. When I get my replacement unit from NewEgg, I plan on selling it BNIB to cut my losses.

The new board I got is an ASUS Z170i Pro Gaming. The main negatives I have with this board is the color scheme - I have never liked the black-and-red, look-at-me-I'm-a-gamer look. I plan on painting over the motherboard heatsinks in grey eventually.

In any case, I installed the new motherboard last night, and the first thing I did was run some stress test to see if I had fixed the throttling issue. I'm glad to report that it did! The CPU no longer throttles, even when running Prime95 small FFTs.

* God was that process painfully slow. They'd reply to my ticket at, say, 2pm. I'd reply back at 2:05pm. They would not reply until the next day at 2pm. Almost like they go through their list of support tickets once a day, and that's all you get.


TL;DR: The Gigabyte motherbard was throttling the CPU when under load. The ASUS motherboard doesn't.




Next up: CPU benchmarking and overclocking

I have never done any CPU overclocking. Hopefully it's not much more complicated than GPU overclocking, despite needing to play around in the BIOS!
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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-19-2015, 05:10 PM - Thread Starter
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-19-2015, 08:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Uh oh... It seems the PC won't stay off.

Setup:
  • I do not currently have an OS installed.
  • Everything is in the case and plugged in.
  • I have a USB mouse plugged in - no keyboard.
  • I have a monitor plugged in via HDMI.

Reproducing the problem:
  1. I turn on the PC
  2. BIOS posts just fine. Mouse input works, I can navigate the BIOS.
  3. Press on case power button.
  4. Everything turns off.
  5. 3s later...
  6. Everything turns back on.

The only way to get it to stay off is to unplug the power.

This is weird... if I turn it off and unplug the power while it's off, it stays off (duh). But, if I plug the power back in shortly after, it'll boot up right away. However, if I wait a little longer before plugging it back in, it stays off...

Ok, after some more digging... The problem goes away when I remove the GPU.

Help? sadsmiley.gif



UPDATE!

Turns out the "won't stay off" problem is a known issue with the Gigabyte R9 390.
I'll just have to live with it I guess.
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-19-2015, 09:23 PM
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maybe bios update is needed?

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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-22-2015, 11:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toyz72 View Post

maybe bios update is needed?

Turns out it's a known issue with the Gigabyte R9 390. Which kind of sucks. But at least it means my specific card isn't faulty.
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-22-2015, 12:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Next up: Photos of the build, benchmarking and overclocking!

Everything is installed in the case and the cables are managed! The only annoying cables that I can't do much about are the front USB 3 and the front audio cables, which are quite thick and need to plug into the middle of the motherboard.

I've got Windows 10 installed with all the necessary drivers. Even installed Far Cry 3 to give it a whirl... It looks bloody gorgeous in 1440p on ultra settings!


This will be my first time benchmarking and overclocking.

I'm planning on using the free versions of 3DMark and PCMark 8 as benchmarks. Is this sufficient? Are there other benchmarks I should use for some reason? Keep in mind the point of this is not to run 30 different benchmarks on 4 different GPUs/CPUs to compare them, I just want to use them to stress test my overclocked system and get see how much extra performance I'm getting.

I'd also like to get some in-game FPS tests. What free software would you recommend that can show the FPS on screen during gameplay and/or keep track of min/max/avg framerates? Any suggestions as to which games I should use as reference? These are the games I have available. I'm guessing Crysis 2 and Far Cry 3 are possibly the two most demanding titles.
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-23-2015, 11:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Update: Preliminary GPU Overclock results!

So, I installed 3DMark and ran the Fire Strike benchmark, then overclocked with AMD CCC's OverDrive tool.

Can someone validate that these results seem ok, and that I'm not endangering my GPU somehow?
AMD OverDrive settings (Click to show)

3DMark results comparison before and after overclock.
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-25-2015, 08:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Photos of the build

Some nice overview pics to give you an idea what it looks like.




I router the front fans to the fan controller through one of the case beams. I didn't even need to tape them in or anything, they stay in place on their own!





I router the 24-pin cable under the PSU, and the 4-pin cable under the motherboard.




The SSD currently sits on top of the PSU, and there is just enough room to route the SATA data and power cables behind the PSU and under the front fans.




And here's the non-existent clearance between the H90's radiator and the Gigabyte R9 390's backplate.

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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-25-2015, 08:45 PM
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