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CONCEPT: A subtle design focused on clean lines, near-silent performance, and just enough bling to make it interesting. This will be a longer-term build as I will be fabricating a few elements and have several ideas which will be neither cheap nor simple to achieve - so be warned... this might take me awhile.

PARTS LIST:

Existing Parts From Previous Builds
  • Caselabs SM8 Case (Black)
  • Alphacool XT45 480mm Radiator
  • Alphacool XT45 240mm Radiator
  • Alphacool XT45 120mm Radiator
  • Corsair 850AX PSU
  • Silverstone Fan Filters
  • Gentle Typhoon AP-13 & AP-14 120mm Fans
  • Various Bitspower fittings & Reservoir
  • Cables, Fan Controller, etc..
(It remains to be seen whether or not all or any of this will be used in this build)
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New Parts For This Build
  • MSI Gaming Titanium X99 Motherboard
  • Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4 64GB (8X8GB)
  • MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition GPU
  • Intel Xeon E5-1650 v3
  • Watercool Heatkiller IV PRO CPU Block
  • NVMe SSD Drive(s) - (TBD)
(I will keep updating this list as I go and including parts as they come in)

BUDGET/COSTS:
There really isn't a 'budget' for this build - it will be done when it's done and it will cost what it costs. However, as there are always a litany of "How much was that?" questions I will attempt to track things roughly in case someone is wondering. This won't be hugely detailed and won't include labor (unless it's someone else's) but should give you a ballpark.

I'm figuring somewhere around $3000, but it could run off the rails at any time and go north of that.

Not sponsored by anyone other than myself... but if any companies are interested... let me know.
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Discussion Starter #3
Just wanted to post up some teaser pics as some of the hardware has arrived. Mostly I just wanted to try out my new Nikon glass (got a new fast 50mm for my D750)!
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MSI XPower Gaming Titanium X99 Motherboard...

And the 'peek through' window in the box...

Should be pretty clear why I picked it for this build...

But here is the real reason I picked it... now if only the 24pin connector was a 90-degree too.
I think it's really sad that everyone still puts the regular USB3 headers on boards despite stiff cables and delicate pins/surrounds. Sigh
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Man I love the depth of field on this lens... paper thin with beautiful bokeh!

I have to admit I'm not the biggest fan of the dragon motif... but the colors are good at least.


Not your normal CPU, but an unlocked Xeon is simply something I had to have while they exist...

Right at home

And another angle just because dat focus


Although I really like EK blocks, once I saw this I knew it was the one...

Sold out everywhere but at least TitanRig had one on Amazon... the price was high, but it was worth it IMO!

Really can't imagine a different block looking better on this MB.

The pic above is how it's supposed to be installed, but based on research and the design of my loop... we'll be going with this instead:

(The matte finish on the mount is good... but I'm thinking that might have to get some polishing before installation).

And a different kind of precious metal... platinum!

I also ordered the upgraded light bars because when you overpay by 10-15% for memory for aesthetics alone...
then you certainly should have to pay another $80 just to make it look the way it should have to begin with.
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Although to be fair to Corsair - they do have great products, and great service, and (in this case at least) a look that's worth paying a premium for!
Oh, and before anyone asks... yes only 2400... the 1650 is only rated for 2133 but it's known to OC some... but don't really care about RAM OC levels as I've never found it to make enough of a difference to matter - at least in anything that I do. If I were looking for top scores in benches... I obviously would have selected a different CPU to begin with.

One nice thing with the motherboard which was unexpected was a combo promotion which netted me these (although I don't expect much from them quality-wise, they should be good enough for occasional use).


Now to go back to work so I can start bench testing the hardware (before I start voiding warranties... or at least making returns difficult).
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Discussion Starter #4
The first round of hardware is looking good... need to give the SM8 a good, thorough cleaning and then I can start getting things mocked up and measured for rads and see what else I need to order. Thinking of just going 480mm up top and down below, so that would necessitate getting the PSU bracket so it can hang out in the middle front area. Not sure if I like that so I'll have to lay it out a little and see.

Also got a selection of fittings and tubes to see which I like better.

But at least the core hardware is working well and block for the GPU is on the way with the fittings, tube, and miscellany!
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That little dragon is actually growing on me a bit. I like that the lighting isn't over the top on this board, but there is still some for 'spice'.

Not doing any OC'ing at this point (cooler isn't even mounted) but seems good so far.

Hooray for tiny screws and massive over-packaging! I guess it makes you feel like you got your money's worth but wow.


I gotta clean this guy out next. I think it will be pretty quick, but the downsizing might take awhile.


Probably won't get too much done in the next week since I'll be doing that ^
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Discussion Starter #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCautiousOne View Post

Excellent pictures
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Subbed.

TCO
Welcome aboard!

Got some more things coming in for testing, although I'm not sure if any will make it into this build.

After doing the tear-down, cleaning, and rebuild on my other rig... I'm definitely NOT going to be putting pastel coolant in this one! Not that I had clogs or anything, it actually was running fine even after a year, but wow is that crap a mess to deal with. Every time I was positive I had drained and re-plugged everything... something would drip out of the port I missed and panic cleanup would commence!
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I guess we'll find out how truly non-conductive that stuff is because some has gone in places that cannot be completely cleaned (like under a USB3 header)... so after a thorough drying period, and careful leak testing which scares me now... we'll see if it goes 'poof'. I don't worry too much because that M8 has literally seen every kind of disaster imaginable and kept running like a top so I expect it's fine, but even with older hardware... I don't ever want to lose something catastrophically if I can help it.
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Well, already a bit of a change to the hardware after thinking about it a little more. I got the 1080 GTX because I wanted to run a single card and because I really don't game a ton (and when I do their often older, lower requirement games) but the more I thought about things while disassembling my other build (M8) I realized that what I do need desperately is more drive speed. So with a 3770K with no ability to truly gain PCIe lanes - bridge chip only works for graphics (and not that well) - I was always stuck with on-board only for that system.

However, if I put the 1080 in that system, I have basically the same performance as the 980's in SLI - but I gain back the extra 8 lanes for other cards... meaning I can run a NVMe drive as and add-in-card solution on that board. At least that's what I'm hoping... we'll see how well the drivers play nice.

So I ordered a new set of backplates for the 980's and a new anodized plate for the 1080. I'll keep both for both cards in case I want to move them later, but I think it will turn out looking more balanced in this build to have the two cards, and with 40 lanes I have enough to spare.
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Speaking of the other build, I started building it back up and decided that I didn't feel confident with 5 year old o-rings on everything so I'm doing a complete tear-down now to the component level and breaking/cleaning all blocks of any sediment. May still go with Mayhem's pastel in those simply because of the corrosion inhibitors, etc. but I'll clean and flush everything to like-new condition before I rebuild. So now everything will get all new o-rings - well, except for things like the MIPS block for the board as that's not possible to replace. In fact, since it's all straight channels and not a tight or jet-plated block like the GPUs and CPU - I'll just flush that and leave it un-cracked.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
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Originally Posted by Bart View Post

Subbed!
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BART!!!! How is life treating you buddy?!?

It's been way too long since I could mess around with building systems rather than just using them for boring work. It's sad I think I probably got to game less than 40 hours on my M8 build before many years had passed and it was time for major maintenance and rebuilding... sigh.

I guess that's how it is with us old guys... at least until retirement - whatever that is.
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Some of us old guys still play games WAY too much.
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Life is good man, haven't touched my system in a while either. Getting that itch though..
 

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Got a few more parts in and started doing some test fitting of components.

My only real issues are with the optical drive, so I may have to go with my external only. I hate having to pull out and connect it all the time, though I am not really pleased with the look through the XL window in the case. Unlike so many on here, my optical drive is used all the time - call me old, but I still like to actually own things, so I buy CDs and BDs and then rip them to my NAS for streaming at home, but I enjoy the backup and flexibility that the physical media provides. Granted, now that decent movies are few and far between, I'm probably only ripping 10 or so per year... but with music it's probably more like 30-50 per year so at least one thing per week requires an optical drive.

Not like an external wouldn't work however, so I may just give up and start 'batching' ripping duties to once or twice a year and then doing a stack of media all at once.

Anyway here's some goody shots along with some tube possibilities. Not a fan of the durability with the finish on the alphacool hard tubes really (see marked defect) but I guess I can just check all pieces prior to cutting and hopefully eliminate the flawed areas with the cut-waste.

The 'poster shot':

Smoked acrylic res and black sparkle D5 setup:

Just a few of the alphacool fittings to see how they compare:

They feel really cheap but seem to seal well and grab thoroughly:

Three choices - black chrome, borosilicate glass, chrome (L to R):

Same three with imperfection noted - and there are several scratches also... obviously I was the only one using gloves when handling these.
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Another fitting option and 3 dark chrome colors (XSPC, Alphacool, Bitspower):


I also got some Barrow cheap compression fittings and acrylic tubing for my M8 build which I will eventually get around to documenting and putting up in the other thread. I have to say for 'replica' fittings they actually do some things better than the ones here (even better than Bitspower in some aspects) which surprised me. Considering the cost I think they should be giving the established 'name brands' somewhat of a wake-up call that the days of ultra high margins need to be over. Normally I hate the whole concept of Chinese 'knock-offs' and try to avoid where possible, but considering that many of the 'name brand' companies seem to be getting cheaper and cheaper on the materials and just adding a 'branding fee' to the price... I'm less loyal than I used to be in that respect.

Of course that applies to all manufactured goods, and is certainly not unique to computer components.
 

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Alright, so we're back to work on this build after running into some design "issues" - and I've decided to do something very stupid... ahem, I mean challenging.

Wound up with one of every 120mm variant of alphacool XT radiator so I've decided to put them all in - after all, it's not every day you see an SM8 with four rads but no pedestal.
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However, that changes the tubing I will be using as using straight tubes and fittings to make the bends... will be about $550 in fittings if I went Bitspower (and even $275-300 in Barrow fittings). Although the cost alone wouldn't be too terribly prohibitive - the 60+ points of failure in the loop were giving me nightmares just thinking about it. So I'm going to be bending PETG for this build and I'll do the BP chromed brass tubes in my S3 build to be started after this one is finished.

I do prefer acrylic to PETG for the most part (aesthetically at least), but as this is likely to move around a bit and the BP PETG is readily available and in perfect sizes for this build.

Radiators are all masked now and will be getting an appropriate paint job for the theme... expect pictures in a couple days. I decided to leave the tanks black however, so I can use black fittings on them as I think I will have enough silver in the build already and I still want it to have a slightly understated look.
 

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Originally Posted by TheCautiousOne View Post

Good to see this one back up
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TCO
Yeah, I'm trying really hard not to start cutting back on design ideas just to have it finished sooner... that's a bad habit of mine as I want to actually use the hardware before it's completely obsolete! Unfortunately, with all the 'actual' work I have currently... that makes it hard to set aside enough hours to work on builds.
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Welcome aboard!
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Hmmm... well, some progress has been made but I'm already definitely second guessing the idea of using 4 rads in this case. It's definitely possible but it will require some pretty drastic compromises that I'm not entirely sure I'm prepared to make. Got everything masked off and ready to paint... scuff sanded paintables with 600 and then gave them a wipe down with solvent before shooting the silver:

Before...

And after...



Painting went pretty well - every time I spray something it goes a little better than the last time - but still makes it's abundantly clear that I've got a ways to go. All in all though, for trying to match the ram accents on the Dominators... it's a success I think:


First problem is with the Aquaero... that just isn't going to fit at all. I was prepared to have to use an external optical drive for my ripping and burning duties (especially since I've got an internal in my M8 at the office) but having to run an app to view flow rates and temps is a little more of an issue. Fan control isn't really as I'm running all AP-13's so even if they're all running at 100% all the time, they will still be nearly silent... however, I like to be able to view temps while gaming, etc. and using overlays or swapping out to look up a temp is cumbersome at best... plus I didn't spend $175 for AC6+Heatsink+faceplate just to not use it.
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I could put it in the S3 when I get to that - but then I've limited rad space in a case that's cramped for it in the first place... sigh.



(As you can see even the molex terminal only works because it can sit on top of the 240... there's absolutely no way you're connecting fans to that. Although I don't care as much about the IR/LED/etc... that would work acceptably in this position.

So here's my test fit with all 4 rads and nothing else as there can't be anything else in this scenario...


So although possible to use top port of the 120 to the 480 it's straight in neither dimension so that's gotta be a weird dual rotary snake with a crapload of tweaking, and I'm not a fan of how the 120-to-CPU link is going to look either. Then add in to that the fact that if I go straight from the pump to the 240 I'm afraid it will leak (see M8 build if interested about that) and I'm starting to think it's not worth it after all.

I mean at some point aesthetics must give way to function... and I certainly don't need the extra 120mm and 240mm of radiator space (I will have 7X120mm space for two blocks after all, and I'm not going to be looking for a huge OC on the CPU either since it's a Xeon). So I may have just painted the two smaller rads just for practice... which actually would irritate me because I could have shot another coat of silver on the other two if I hadn't painted them.
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Since no one has the silver BP pump kit in stock and the black sparkle looks way out of place with all the silver around it... I've got some time to think about things more. Plus I still have to do all my custom cabling and sleeving, and I need to do some touch up on the black areas of the rads (flaws/chipping in alphacool's paint, plus some overspray in some areas where my masking pulled up.

Suggestions? Ideas? Criticizm?
 

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Hooray for the ridiculous markup of Titan Rig... although I think the prices are laughable - it does mean that they have stuff in stock that PPCs can't ever seem to get (like silver D5 kits). Although now that I've paid an extra 15% for one I'm sure they'll have them back in stock soon.
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Of course I had to resleeve everything, but that wasn't that big of a deal since I could use much better sleeving than PPCs did on the black sparkle version. Can't fault them for it however, since if they took as long as I did working the tight MDPC sleeving on those wires... they'd have to charge at least twice as much.

Did more thinking on things and realized how much more I was likely to use the optical drive than I previously figured - I had forgotten about all my photo archives and stock CDs that I would either have to rip to the NAS (which would be a ton more use all at once) or pull from as needed (which would be consistent though sporadic) and decided that the 120mm and 240mm are gonna have to go.

Still working on a solution for the AC6 - may look into using a ribbon cable to connect the display to the logic board so they can be located in different places... that's gonna be a fun experiment.
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Good call on ditching the small rads. Those are more pain then they're worth, and I'm a man who appreciates rad overkill. But you have overkill enough without them. Wise choice!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
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Originally Posted by Bart View Post

Good call on ditching the small rads. Those are more pain then they're worth, and I'm a man who appreciates rad overkill. But you have overkill enough without them. Wise choice!
Yeah I thought about getting the PSU bracket and running another 480mm in the bottom but then thought better of that as well... although I ordered some metals for some fabrication to at least make everything very tidy and to add some more 'bling' to things. At least that's the idea until I find out that working with mirror-finished stainless steel is harder than I anticipated.
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Only need to drill some holes in it so hopefully it's not too much of a headache.
 
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