This build was built almost entirely using eBay and Craigslist.
Oh boy, this one was an adventure in itself. Background on me, I'm a freshman engineering student at Drexel University (Go Dragons!), and I needed something more powerful for rendering and CAD than my Quadro P500-equipped ThinkPad P52S. (Not a P5000, it's a P500. FurMark at 2.5FPS anyone?) I'd been wanting to build a system like this for myself for quite a while, but I was always tied up building systems for other people as a side hustle back in high school. I made decent money, but I put it all into savings for college. Anyway, I know that some of the parts are a little bit older, but I would much rather have known stability than squeeze out the last 50MHz when overclocking, especially for a machine like this one that HAS to work no matter what, because if it's 4AM and I need to turn in an AutoCAD file by 7AM, this machine better be working.
The irony is that I'm using a CPU and RAM that was never officially supported in the QVL by ASUS. The RAM is pretty universal, just 64GB of some cheap SK Hynix stuff I found on eBay after some digging for a decent price. I don't need XMP or ECC, so this was the best option. The E5-2673 V3 that I'm using is an OEM version of the E5-2680 V3, which is on the QVL, which is why I took a shot on it.
The board (or more accurately boards) were a parts grab from eBay. I loved the aesthetic of the ASUS WS series of boards, and I wanted the utmost in stability AND performance out of a high core count Xeon, so I picked up 3 of these boards for $125 each. They were all parts boards, for varying reasons, but the one that's in the system right now has parts from all 3 boards combined onto it to make one fully functional board. I sent the other two off to be fixed, then resold for a profit.
The cooler was another eBay find, this time CM refurbished. I'm perfectly fine with a refurbished cooler, and it doesn't really matter because I'm idling at about 20-23 C. The SATA SSDs were all SSDs that I had lying around from the old business, and the WD Black SN750 was one of only 3 things on this list that were bought from Amazon. That was a Black Friday special, so I grabbed one for free same-day delivery, and damn this thing is fast. I'm getting about 3450 MB/s on read, and about 2600 MB/s on read. For $90, I think I did pretty good.
The Silverstone ECU02 (not in pictures, still waiting for delivery) is meant to enable USB3.1 front panel connectivity for this case (it uses this weird new connector which obviously is not on any native X99 board), the ThunderboltEX3 card was just to flex on my roommate with his DongleBook Pro, and the CableMod cables were purely for aesthetic, but I ran out of cable combs for the PCIE cables.
In the immortal words of Linus Sebastian, "Never cheap out on a power supply". I took those words and threw then into the shredder bin as I went on eBay and grabbed the cheapest EVGA 1 Kw PSU I could find, and the second Black Friday special on Amazon, the T6E wifi card. Still great quality stuff, just cheap.
The case was the 3rd Black Friday buy from Amazon, and this thing is GORGEOUS! It's actually super easy to build in, but there is one problem. Lian Li states that it supports EATX motherboards. This is an SSI CEB board, which is between ATX and EATX (wider than ATX but less than EATX, same height.) and it overhangs the cable grommets and nearly scrapes the vertical radiator mount inside the case. I can't imagine putting a full EATX board like a Dominus in this case, which is why I told a friend of mine to get the O11 Dynamic XL instead of this one. Anyone trying to put EATX in this case, DO NOT DO IT IF YOU'RE WATERCOOLING. Otherwise, it's an incredible case. Sorry about the fingerprints in the pics.
The GPUs were probably the most difficult to source. I knew I would either need dual graphics of normal cards, or one really high-end card. I didn't have the money for RTX, so I knew I would be on team red because I wanted a decently modern card. Scouring eBay for a Radeon VII left me nowhere, so I realized that I would be better off with a pair of Vega 64s. Everything on eBay was like $300-350 per card, but a guy on Craigslist who was buying his kids Radeon VIIs was selling 4 Vega 64s, so I copped 2 for $400 and when I was told that I would be getting the one limited edition card he had, I was happy.
These cables with the ModMesh sleeving are a royal pain to manage. I much prefer the ModFlex cable sleeving. Also, since the USB3.1 cable from the front panel is only so long, it might not reach the ECU02 when it arrives, being designed for edge I/O connectors. I also had to fiddle with different BIOS versions not getting all the RAM detected, which eventually got solved by unplugging it and plugging it back in. I forgot Rule #1 of PC tech support, and I worked in tech support and IT for 3 years. "Always unplug it and plug it back in". I had a week with 32GB of RAM instead of 64 just because I was an idiot. Ironically enough, the CPU worked right out of the box. The GPUs would not work in Crossfire as I intended them to, and it really showed in 3DMARK and Unigine. I had to fiddle a bit with the Radeon Adrenalin software before I figured out it was a driver bug and as soon as I updated and restarted, my performance in Unigine Heaven at 4K with MSAA x2 doubled from about 40FPS to the high 70s and low 80s. The wifi also suffered from driver bugs until I got a beta driver from TP-Link and it worked perfectly. Apparently the driver that was publicly available doesn't work fully with build 18363 of Windows 10 Pro. It works now, just in time for finals. Photoshop and Lightroom run perfectly and it processes my 6K stills from my camera flawlessly. Premiere renders a 20 minute project in about 30 seconds, and AutoCAD and Fusion don't even think about stuttering. Interestingly, the PSU, which I have no doubt was used for mining, is holding up pretty well. Now, I don't have an oscilloscope or anything like that, but it can handle the CPU and GPUs at full tilt with no problems.
As for the rest of the desk, there's a Dell S2817Q, a Dell UP2516D, a Corsair Strafe RGB with MX Reds, a Logitech MX Master (original), a Logitech G903, a Logitech MX Anywhere 2, and a Logitech Z533 speaker system I got from work as my gift for my one-year anniversary with the company. I later found out they trolled me and it was a customer return, but it works and I'm happy with it. The ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 dock mounted on the left is for my P52s.
Overall, I'm happy with the results. I can run everything I ever needed to, I'm running hardware that I know works, Steam has an ultra-fast library, and Baymax gets a new perch on top of the case. Hard to believe I was just going to buy a 2012 Mac Pro, throw the Vega 64s in it, and bootcamp it. There might be a Threadripper upgrade in the works for this box, so it might get a huge power upgrade.