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From box to box: xenon odyssey's awesome new computer (BUILD PICS PAGE 3)

prophetik music

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someone's getting a new system!

xenon odyssey (bobby keller) recently contacted me about building a nice big music machine. he wanted something that was long-term viable, with lots of storage space and a lot of RAM, and the ability to play some games. i said to myself, hmmmm - i wonder what we can do? i also ordered some stuff for myself, since the money i got from this build was enough to allow me to overhaul my personal system. he's getting a few used parts, but as a whole he's getting a ton of awesome stuff for pretty darn cheap.

we're using one of the Cooler Master Storm Scout cases for his system, which is a nice, portable, roomy case with an all-metal frame. it's got the ability to turn on and off the LEDs inside without shutting off the fans as well, which is nice, and it comes with a big solid metal handle, which is great for bobby because he's in school. it also supports a ton of addon drives - three more optical drives or 5.25 bay components, five more HDDs beyond the three we're installing, and five more rear expansion slots as well. all in all, an awesome case. you'll notice i got one for myself, too =) i'll be hooking up a few Yate Loon D12SM-12 medium-speed 120mm fans to the case as well. they're the best CFM per dBa fan out there, in my opinion, and they'll add to the overall cooling of the case.

for a cpu and cooler, we're going with an i7-870 CPU, with a Cooler Master Hyper 212+ CPU cooler. the i7-870 is the top stock-clocked standard quad-core that Intel sells for the 1156 socket (they sell one with an unlocked core for 50$ more, but unlocked cores are for OCing wussies :< ). it's a 2.93ghz quad core with hyperthreading (essentially making the computer an eight-core machine). the cpu cooler is actually one that i've used for several months on my personal machine, and it's excellent. i hand-sanded the face using successively higher-grained sandpaper down to around 25 microns, and then seated it with some custom thermal paste a chemist friend of mine makes. i'm planning on overclocking this cpu, so this should be pretty awesome.

for graphics, bobby's buying my GTX 260 core 216. it's a great card that uses low power compared to the GTX 4xx cards, but still outputs competitive visuals easily. it killed Starcraft 2 on 1920x1200 max settings pretty easily, all told =) and he gets a great deal on it, since it was mine first.

for a motherboard, bobby's going with the gigabyte p55a-ud3. the -ud3 is a great board that supports USB3 and SATA-III, both important technologies that are just starting to be used by major manufacturers. it's also great for overclocking and very stable in the long-term.

for RAM, bobby's going with triple-channel DDR3 1333 4gb sticks for a total of 12gb. some might complain that i should have picked DDR3 1600mhz, but the 2-3% performance difference isn't worth the extra 50$, all told. since he's using 4gb sticks instead of 2gb sticks, he can upgrade easily without having to buy all new RAM, as well.

for storage, we're using an 80gb G.SKILL SSD - one of the top rated SSDs in Tom's Hardware's SSD roundup over the summer - with two 1.5tb Western Digital Caviar Black drives for storage. the SSD will give him a very fast OS drive, with most libraries for VSTs being installed on the storage drives. using Black drives instead of Blue or Green also makes for a faster storage library for his samples and other streamed material for music.

for power, we're going with the excellent SeaSonic X750 750w PSU. the X750 can output up to 850w under load - that's 850w output, not 850w wall draw! - and features a 91% efficiency rating, which is one of the highest efficiency ratings available among 750w PSUs. it's modular, and features a 120mm PWM fan that keeps it nice and quiet no matter what the output is.

now, you'll note that there's several "extra" parts in that picture from what's listed above. that's my stuff =) i'm taking my current system (i7-860, 4gb RAM, aforementioned GFX card, lots of hard drives) and splitting into two system - one specifically for music, in the rackmount case, and one specifically for internet usage and gaming, in the second Storm Scout case. the music PC is getting my old i7-860 with stock cooling, with a cheapo discrete graphics card, 8gb of RAM, and several older hard drives i've got, with my current motherboard (EVGA P55 LE) and audio interface (focusrite saffire pro 40). my gaming system will have a less expensive CPU (i5-760), since games don't need eight cores (and rarely need 4!), which will overclock a lot easier than the i7 1156 processors. it'll have the tranquillo cpu cooler, 4gb of G.SKILL Trident DDR3 2200mhz RAM, another -ud3 motherboard, a 128gb SATA-III SSD from Crucial (275$ just by itself!), two 2tb WDC green drives for backups, and an EVGA 460 graphics card, with the Corsair AX850 power supply.

i'll be posting pictures as i start assembly thursday night after work. tonight i'm going to finish backing up everything on my computer and start configuring the cases, and then thursday night and all of friday will be the builds themselves.

here's a few more closeups of the components.



here's a picture of all the boxes everything came in :< talk about a ton of spare packaging materials! i'm saving my case boxes for our next move, so i don't have to wrap my computers in a quilt again.


let me know what you think! more pictures incoming as i start the builds.

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Is that a stuffed animal on top of that sofa? Looks pretty cute.

it is, it's a snowman. i'll take pictures later =)

i did a little work on it tonight - specifically installing the platter drives, optical drive, and SSD. i also found a fan specifically made for a Storm Scout case that i had sitting around, so i'll put that on the side blowing on the graphics card. the SS fans are special because they've got a plug for the fan and a separate plug for the lights ON the fan, allowing them to be controlled by a switch. they're actually pretty expensive for the nature and quality of the fans, so bobby gets an extra gift =)

also got a chance to play around with the rackmount case for the music pc. it's a surprisingly well-built for how much i paid for it, complete with a removable fan bar across the middle that consists of three 120mmx25mm fans to keep airflow moving through the case. nice design that keeps the airflow concentrated around the motherboard while providing airflow for the HDDs as well. pictures tomorrow or the next day.

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shut up proto everyone knows you're a robot

you're not fooling anyone


That's Proto on the left, I'm on the right. You found us both out.

Back on topic, I have this really ugly sofa from when I had an apartment in College. It is ugly and big but comfy as anything and you just kinda sink in it. I did buy a new Sofa recently, from Ikea. It is awesome because it turns into a Double-sized Bed when you use a pullout section.

My computer rocks.

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today i backed up three of my drives onto the green drive that i picked up, and finished hooking up fans to the rackmount case. i also finished the prelim install stuff on bobby's case.

tonight i will drink scotch and possibly start disassembling my personal system. then, tomorrow, i'll start bright and early on the build itself - bobby first, then my music pc, then my gaming system. while bobby's getting an OS install and initial setup, i'll be doing hardware stuff for my systems.

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got everything set up today. xenon's machine is baking in the corner for the night on a monster Prime 95 8-core stress test for around 12 hours. i got it stable between 3.5 and 3.6ghz with no issues - it loads around 70C under the overclock, but that's not really that bad on air. it jumps almost 30C with an 8-core load, and under a normal load (three cores, 1.5 physical cores utilized) it doesn't go above 65C. so i think it's fine, all told. i actually underclocked the ram slightly to get it stable, but it's humming along pretty solid. averaged 30fps in the Heaven 2.1 benchmark, 2x anti, 4anisotropy, 1920x1200, so i was happy =) the SSD helps with loading a lot as well. never played with one before.

my systems are set up as well, although getting w7 64-bit on the music machine - which has no optical drive because i forgot my spare was an IDE - was annoying because i couldn't get a flash drive to boot properly for a while. got it working, and am in the process of transferring like 450gb of data onto the hard drives over a USB connection. going to be a while, i think.

i took a ton of pictures that i'll upload this weekend at some point. gotta clean up first, my floor is covered with packing materials!

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alright, here's pictures from the build weekend!


my personal system as of friday morning. look at those cobwebs! someone hasn't been taking care of it recently =(


after disassembling my entire system and cleaning it, here's what we have.


the holy grail of 1156 i7 locked processors: the i7-870 2.93ghz quad core (with HT, meaning 8-core) processor. woot!


here's his motherboard assembly. i7-870, 4-heatpipe cpu cooler, 12gb of DDR3 1333 RAM, GTX 260 core 216 graphics card, p55-based motherboard. awesome!


here's his system in the case.


there's a better picture. look at that awesome cable management! the one straggly red wire on the right side got tucked away later, it's the dvd drive's SATA cable.

after that, it was time to work on my system while his got windows, programs, updates, and some benchmarking.


here's the (really clever) drive cage for my new rackmount music pc. it actually slides out the front with a minimum of effort, allowing you to swap drives without having to screw with taking the whole (enormous) case out.


here's a better top-down view of the rackmount case. that's a full ATX motherboard in that monster. it takes up a LOT of space =) but once it's in a rack, it'll look great. pretty quiet, too.


here's my machine (in the same model case as bobby's system). i went a little more lightweight than him - a bit better graphics, less raw power, way less ram. it's sitting at 3.3ghz with no issue currently =)


there's my current workspace. the rackmounts in the back between the rightmost and middle monitors, and it services the two monitors over the keyboard. the big monitor and normal keyboard handles the gaming system. lots of space, and it works surprisingly well all told.

final specs:

bobby's pc: i7-870, 12gb ddr3 1333 RAM, gtx 260 core 216, 2tb of WDC Black storage drives, 80gb SSD primary, dvd-rw drive, W7 x64

music pc: i7-860, 4gb ddr3 1333 RAM, basic discrete gfx card, 1.5tb of storage space, 500gb HDD primary, focusrite saffire pro 40 audio interface, W7 x64

gaming pc: i5-760, 4gb ddr3 2200 RAM, gtx 460, 4tb of WDC Green storage drives, 128gb SSD primary, dvd-rw drive, W7 32-bit

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