o/ Morning fellas! I don't think I've posted here in about four years; back when the XPS 720 H2C series came out (My OEM card was giving me the screech of death at the time, I ended up replacing it)
Anyway, as the thread title suggests, I've just gotta share my trials and tribulations with folks who'll understand why I've been up until 4 am almost every night this week (yes, while holding down a full-time job to boot!)
Got home sunday night from the lady's; ready to watch an episode of DS9 before going to bed. Hit the power button, enter windows password and...crash.
Next time I load up, I see a new prompt line after POST: '[something something] unexpected shutdown due to a thermal event...crap.
Well, considering I've maxed the board out at 8 gigs of RAM, been trying to run an SSD without any AHCI support from the motherboard, and [when I opened the case I discovered] a little pile of powdered, reduced CPU block coolant, it was time to put the old bag to rest.
Don't get me wrong, this thing was overpriced, even in '08 (It was the first Quad-Core Extreme CPU Intel manufactured and water cooling was still a pretty niche affair) it was almost 5,000 dollars. It was a graduation present, and I am to this day thankful for it (Learned my craft on it, in fact!). Ran well, for the most part; putting aside the whole sound blaster screech of death thing (a problem easily fixed by installing a new, retail creative card), it was a fine machine and ate through it's contemporaries with the dual 8800 ultras (remember those?).
I cheesed a lot out of this machine. Installed a new sound card, when one of the 8800Us died, I popped the little bastard in the oven. When the other died, I did the same (I think total, I must have baked those things 6 or 7 times). Finally upgraded to an HD 6970 with last year's tax return, and it's been putzing along ever since.
Now, being a Dell put me into a bit of a pickle:
> Poor case design, on the inside, at least kept me from re-using it. Only enough space on the front for a single 120mm fan; the rest of the intake grate was occupied by a massive (and I mean, covers half of the motherboard, along it's width) radiator for the CPU water block. Rear end had no fans (that's right, none!)
> Dell proprietary PSU predated the 8+2 power connector, and the mobo requires not one but two 24-pin mainboard connectors. I learned that the tough way when I first got the Radeon last year.
> DDR2 RAM meant having to buy new RAM.
Here's the trouble: I needed to have a machine, and a good one at that. I work full time as an Art Director, and for those of you in the CG field, you know that taking your work home with you is often a neccessity to meet those deadlines. I didn't have time to wait for shipped parts, and the fact that I just committed to a 5-year auto loan last october, I didn't have a ton of cash to spend on this.
So, last weekend, I took a trip to the Microcenter in Madison Heights (Detroit, for you non-mitten dwellers) and picked up the following:
Intel Core i7 3930K LGA 2011
Asus Sabertooth X79
Cooler Master TPC-812 CPU Heatsink
Cooler Master CM Storm Trooper
16GB (2 8gb sticks) Corsair VENGANCE DDR3 RAM
Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 1200watt PSU
APC UPS Battery Backup (1300VA) with AVR
Mind, this all came out to about 1600 bucks (APC not included). Saved some dough on the i7 (Microcenter was selling them for a ridiculous $499), and shipping on most of it, too. It was also the first machine I've built from scratch (read: first brand-new processor I've had to install). Stressful, to say the least, especially reading about proper thermal grease application. Other components I managed to scrap:
AMD Radeon HD 6970
LG SuperMultiBlu BD-RE
The XPS's OEM card reader
the XPS's OEM DVD+-RW drive
I managed to scrounge up another cooler master fan to double-down on the CPU heatsink, to my tickles I discovered that the board seems to default to a push/pull (Assuming I've got my terms right), so there's a slight vacuum within the radiator fins on the heatsink. I know, I know, I could have (and likely should have) gone with something like an H100, but the death of my last box and the additional research would have made installing a liquid cooling loop a bit beyond the scope of what I was trying to accomplish. Put simply, for now, I just need to get my Adobe Applications running properly.
Spent all week putting the stuff together, 2 nights ago did a "dry-install" and confirmed that nothing was borked (huzzah!), and last night did all my cable routing, closed the back up, loaded the drivers, and did some Windows Updates (by 1 am, the lady was ready for sleep, so that's where I'm at now). The Heatsink is performing well, seems to be idling between 24C and 31C, all the cores seem to be about the same, averaged (which is a relief, considering what a pain it was to install). I'll be looking into building a liquid cooling loop when I start looking to get another AMD Radeon card to Crossfire with the 6970.
Thoughts on the build, gentlemen? It's been so long since I've had a true Rig that I barely know what to do with it besides collossal Raster graphics in Photoshop while I lay out a billboard in InDesign or something. I'll probably pick up the new premium BF3 nonsense (despite my having it since beta :/)
Suggestions for 'pimping' my rig?