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TazD's 2010 Budget Intel i5-750 SLI Portable Build

4946 Views 13 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  gnome
Well, it's been just about TWO years since my last build (see here). Due to a recent job opportunity, I'll be commuting like a madman and living in two different locations during a given-week.

Thus, I thought it'd be a good time to upgrade, while downsizing my mid-tower to a portable lanbox setup so that I can tote my machine with me!

So I've done my customary research and after balancing budgets, size, weight and power-to-price ratios, I've come up with the following:
  • Intel i5-750 Processor
  • Gigabyte GA-P55M-UD4 Motherboard
  • GSkill Ripjaws 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1333 (7-7-7-21 Timings)
  • Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB 7200RPM SATA Drive
  • Thermaltake VF1000BWS LANBOX Computer Case
  • OCZ ModXStream Pro Power 650W, Modular, Dual +12V, 80Plus Power Supply
  • CoolerMaster Gemini IIS CPU Fan w/1156 Bracket
What about the video card?! This one was a bit of a toughie. As you can see, my motherboard offers SLI/Crossfire in a 8x/8x setup...something I've wanted to try for some time. My original intention was for dual 4850s, but I jumped on too late and they are priced too high at the moment.

So I decided to KEEP my BFG 8800GT 512MB PCI-E video card and picked up a refurbished one for $50 to setup SLI for the next six months until the DX11 cards find a better price point.

Total cost in upgrades (after rebates of course
) is $500 even! Not too shabby.

Parts on on order (thanks to Newegg and TigerDirect) and should be arriving by the end of the week.

I'll be posting regular updates on both the system build AND the overclocking journey so stay tuned for more!!
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Sounds like a good build, although I would get a HD 5850, and sell those 8800 GTs. IF you don't, you'd wish you did. 5850 + i5 is a great combo.

Also, get a Mugen 2 or a TRUE rather than that coolermaster cooler.
Nice. Can't wait to see how it all comes together. Be sure to post plenty of pics! Subbed.
@ the_milk_man, I like it...although I'm really picking up the VF1000 for the handle...since this little box will be moving every three days! Without a handle...I just foresee myself dropping this thing on a rainy day.

@FSF...I have my eyes on the 5850, but they're not at the price point I'm looking at. Since I already have an 8800GT, I picked up the refurbished one on the cheap as "in-between" setup. My hope is that the 5850s will drop once nVidia introduces their DX11 cards next year and then I'll pick those up. Oh...and I'm limited on air cooling options due to SFF box. The Mugen 2 is nice, but I don't have the clearance.
nice build. good parts choices.

can't wait to see the build log.
DAY 1: And so it begins...

Alright, after much anticipation, all of the components arrived today. I eagerly unpacked everything and quickly began my customary walk-through phase (where I ensure that everything is present, in good-condition and fits in it's location -- i.e. no fans running into video cards/memory heat sinks).

After I confirm that things fit, I proceed to mount the CPU, Gemini II cooler and motherboard. The Gemini II required a separate LGA-1156 adapter that needed to be mounted on the bottom of the motherboard (Yes...that Gemini is pretty big). Luckily, the Thermaltake Lanbox has an easy slide-out motherboard tray and installation of the thermal paste (AS5), Gemini II and motheboard onto the tray was the easiest installation I've ever experienced!!

Here she was after the above was complete:

The CPU cooler fits nicely and there's plenty of clearance between the copper heat pipes of the Gemini II and the heat sinks on the Ripjaws.

NOTE: I HAD to rotate the pipes to the memory side, or they got DANGEROUSLY close to the 16x PCI-E slot.

After ensuring that everything was safetly mounted, I plugged in the OCZ power supply, plugged in the motherboard power and my 8800GT and booted her up!

Ah, the sweet sound of fans in synchronization!

No bad beeps or boops...so I'm feeling good.

A quick check of BIOS and things look good. I quickly adjust the memory timings to fit these Ripjaws (7-7-7-21) as they came up higher on auto (8-8-8-24) for some reason.

A quick reboot and I start watching temps. Out of the box, with the thermal just applied, things look okay:

At AUTO (save for memory timings), I'm cruising at a comfortable 28C. Not as low as I'd hoped for...but I realize that the thermal is still finding it's place between the CPU and Cooler.

I'm tempted to leave it running overnight but am afraid that someone (or something) will do something to make me sad, so I turn it off and rest up for the night!
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DAY# 2 - Something's burning!

Alright, I wake up energized and ready for a challenge. Not wanting to waste time with this build, I proceed to mount the motherboard (and goodies) into the Thermaltake Case along with my WD Black 640 SATA drive. I connect up the stock case fans (3x of them no less), but leave the top of the case open.

A quick check of cables and I'm back into the BIOS. I decide to let it bake on idle for a few moments, so I go and grab a quick cup of coffee and return to find my CPU idle temp MUCH higher! 39C to be exact.


I should preface the above by saying that this is a lanbox, so there's not a ton of room in there for air to move around. However, the real problem I'm having is two-fold:
  1. The clearance from my Gemini II and PSU is small....think less than 10mm small.
  2. I can't seem to find an answer as to what the STOCK VCORE voltage on the i5 is? Is it 1.125, 1.200 or 1.250?
Regarding the Gemini/PSU clearance issue, I made the executive decision to FLIP the PSU upside down (so that the fan is facing UP and out of the case). It didn't make much sense in my simple mind to have TWO fans both trying to pull air when there is less than 10mm clearance. Since the PSU fan is 140mm and Gemini II fan is 120mm, I was afraid that the PSU fan would win out and suck all the air away from the Gemini.

Now, I'm not so sure that was the right idea. I'm going to let this thing run for awhile to see if the temps settle down, but I think I will try flipping the PSU around and seeing what the battling fans do my CPU temps.

As for the stock VCORE voltage, I'm looking for some help here? What is it? I don't want to assume that Gigabyte's board will detect it correctly, so let me know all-knowing-overclock.net readers!!

So after watching my idle temps creep up to 44C in the BIOS screen, I decided to go ahead and flip my PSU over so that the INTAKE fan for the PSU was directly over the CPU fan. Again, I've haven't flipped the CPU fan intake direction, so my fear is that the airflow is going wacko between those two fans.

Needless to say, flipping the PSU over did NOT make a difference in idle temps. Still, knowing that this is a lanbox setup, I think it's unfair to expect idle temps under 30C.

So, I decide to move forward and install my test OS (Windows 7 RC) and load up Real Temp and Prime95 for some good ole' fashioned testing.

Windows 7's installation went without a hitch and initial bootup worked great. I quickly installed the testing software and started running 100% on all four cores. Temps shot up as expected and topped off at around 72C (screenshots to come).

Again, this is stock settings, so this is a little disheartening for my OCing dreams...although I knew 4GHz was not in the realm of possibility in a tight lanbox with air-cooling. Still, even 3.6GHz seems like a tall order if my stock settings are burning at 72C.

Next up is some more FAN re-arrangement to see if I can get better airflow on that CPU.

Stay tuned for more!
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DAY# 3 - Plastic Fun!

Alright, so after beating my head against a wall for several hours, I took the advice of fellow OCer Decimate and decided to flip the fan on my Gemini II so that it was pulling air from the CPU and blowing it up RIGHT into the intake fan on my PSU.

While I was flipping the fan, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. Evidentially, Thermaltake ships the Lanbox with a thin plastic layer on both the OUTSIDE and INSIDE of the clear plastic sides that have HUGE vents. Oye...all my temperature readings have been done with two side vents completely covered by plastic.
Live and learn, right?!

I plug everything back in, mount everything back in the case and boot back into Windows 7 to start testing temps!

Wow!! What a difference! With the fan on the CPU flipped and side vents now clear, I'm idling at a chilly 21C according to Real Temp (check out the MINIMUM temps below):

Even better, at 100% load on Prime95, temps topped out at a cool 56C! And that's IN THE CASE with the lid on!!

So after running for a solid 30 minutes, I felt that I had a stable physical build (CPU, thermal paste, fan placement, etc). So it was time to move into the overclocking world!

Before I go through my overclocking process, I want to state my OC goals. I am NOT looking to blow the roof off of the processor. In fact, my primary goals were:
  1. Hit 3.6GHz
  2. Keep temps UNDER 70C at Full Load
That's it. Running a lanbox, I knew that I was sacrificing OC potential for portability. However,a near 1.0GHz in clock speed should be MORE than enough gains to merit the cost of the high end components.

With that established, I must admit that I skipped the "normal" OC process of slowing pushing the clock up to your desired goals. Instead, I went straight to my target of 3.6GHz by modifying the following:
  • Increase BLCK to 180MHz
  • Keep Clock Multiplier to 20x
  • Increase VCore to 1.150V
  • Adjust System Memory Multiplier (SPD) to 8x so my Ripjaws settled in an OC value of 1480MHz
As noted above, I wasn't quite sure WHAT the Stock i5 voltage was as my BIOS originally detected it at a low 1.165V. Knowing that the max-safe Voltage was somewhere between 1.35V and 1.40V, I thought 1.150V would be a good place to start. I also did NOT enable Load-Line Calibration. I may change this down the road, but for preliminary testing, I always air on the safe side.

By the way, just for note-taking, I also adjusted the following as standard:
  • Disabled Turbo Mode
  • Disabled C1E
  • Disabled EIST
  • Adjusted memory timings to stock 7-7-7-21 and 1.5V per vendor settings
With everything set, I boot up into Windows 7, launch Prime95, RealTemp and CPUID and start running some Thermal Tests (a sequence of 10 Prime95 tests that slowly ramp up to 100% load and then back down).

Everything runs smoothly! So I launch a nice little Torture test on Prime95 and let it bake for 30minutes. No errors and temps are hovering around 68C! I'm happy as a clam!

Next up...LinX! Oye...is that program hard to please. My first test cycle of LinX errors out in 6 seconds! Something's not happy.

I jump back into the BIOS and check my VTT voltage. It's sitting a nice 1.10V, so I bump it up to 1.20V as I read that was recommended to help stablize memory as well.

Another bootup into Win7 and LinX errors out in 20 seconds.

After going back and forth, I end up on the following:
  • VCore at 1.225V
  • VTT at 1.20V
That was it. I ran a LinX cycle of 20 tests on ALL memory and it passes with flying colors. Since it's getting late, I decide to let Prime95 run overnight!

More to come!!
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I wake up to find my new build running nicely with a strong 9 hours of Prime95 stability. As you can see below, things ran well and error free for the entire 9 hours and temps held steady AT just around 70C:

(the 72C and 73C HIGH temps were probably caused by the house heater kicking in at 6AM in response to the outside temps hitting 37F as you can see that the temps were back to 70C and 69C at 100% load when I took the screenshot).

I shut down Prime95 and load up LinX and run a full 50-cycle on all memory. 50 cycles later, success!

Here's where I begin to see some different numbers...LinX definitely runs the processors hotter. Despite the fact that both LinX and Prime95 can lift your processor's load to 100%, LinX's torture test adds an incredible 10C to my load temps.

At this point, I'm going to experiment in some real-life situations for the next week or so to see how my processor responds to real-life gaming, browsing, editing, etc before deciding whether or not to back off on my OC numbers and subsequent voltage.

Also, at this point, I'm open to folks who may suggest changes in my settings. One thing that I'm a little confused by is how LinX differs in it's torture of the processor and memory. I was surprised to see Prime95 run like butter only to have LinX kick out errors within seconds? Even though adding VCore voltage was what stabilized it for me, someone else may be able to shed some light on what LinX "likes" in order to find those magic numbers.

I'll do a final wrap-up in about a week with final build pics and numbers.

Thanks for reading!
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I read somewhere that for a TT LanBox, it might be good to have the CPU fan blowing upward so that it's not fighting with the PSU for air. I don't know how good your temps are with the PSU flipped, but if that's not working out, you might as well try flipping the CPU fan.
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Thanks Decimate. As it turns out, flipping the CPU fan helped out a bit...that and I found I had some shipping plastic still on the side vents ;p


I have almost the same components, except p55m-UD2 and 8GB of the same RAM.

Because the boxed cpu cooler is ****, I'm looking for another.
Do you think your CPU cooler fits with my setup aswell? It does not interfere with the RAM next to the cooler (at 4x2GB)?

I would take this as an alternative: http://www.silverstonetek.com/produc...T06-E&area=usa
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