The Balance of the Force is a continuation of the original project build known as "The Force." As the build has now changed quite drastically, a new build is being created.
This build is inspired by Star Wars taking elements from the Sith with the red and in particular the LL120's having a bright red light in some ways reminding me of the Sith red eyes; Jedi with the Blue spread around the case; and Stormtroopers with the case itself being White/Black. The Motherboard, cables, and most hardware is focused in the black/white direction, while all color accents focus on a blue/red combination.
This is my first custom water cooled build, and I'm excited that it came out as good as it did. It's clear to me that this build will be expanded upon and be improved. I chose to go with both 360 Rads in exhaust, as the O11D case is very open and enough air can enter through the vents in the case. Dust/maintenance isn't really that big of an issue for me as I have the case on display and I would need to keep it clean regularly anyway. Full exhaust also means better cooling performance since the primary heat generating components are all under water.
|UPDATE| Please see Build Updates log for latest changes to the system along with thinking behind everything. The below description is the original build. Quite a bit has changed. The hardware sections reflects these changes as well.
I wanted a build that was capable of hitting the holy trinity of Silence, Performance, and Aesthetics. This is very difficult to achieve as there are compromises with virtually every decision. And in general the only way to hit this at the level I'm trying to reach is to spend more money. Which in this case I just have to accept and do this build over time. To that end a 2080ti, 32GB of RAM, and a Ryzen 2700x (with the specific intention of upgrading to a high end 3rd Gen Ryzen CPU), was chosen. However, these components put out a lot of heat, so I needed to go water cooling to keep it all under control if I wanted to overclock (which I do). I'm still tweaking the fan curves on the build to hit the acceptable noise/performance ratios I want for day-to-day use and also for high performance testing/benchmarking/rendering/workloads. Sound is a very important component of my system as I invest a lot in high fidelity audio. In Speakers, Headphones, DACs, and Amplifiers. Because of this, a noisy PC is killer to me unless I'm intentionally in a high performance workload where there's no getting around it. To that end, I intend on removing the mechanical hard drives from my main PC and move them to my server PC.
A vertical GPU bracket from CableMod was used because the GPU block is just too pretty not to make it visible :P.
Will update build as time moves on. Will also add more pictures as I clean things up, finish the desk setup (mostly missing the new 49" inch Samsung Super Ultra Wide monitor), cable manage the desk, and wait for good lighting :P
If anyone has any questions or suggestion, please feel free to post em!
The build basic specs are as follows:
CPU: AMD Ryzen 2700x (will be upgraded to 3rd gen Ryzen at launch) GPU: EVGA Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti XC Gaming Motherboard: AsRock X470 Taichi RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 3000 C15 4x8GB (still debating whether I want to upgrade this) Cooling: Full Custom Water Loop. EK Fluid Gaming aluminum build, with A360G + 360 Expansion Kit + RTX GPU Block - totaling in 2x360 Rads System Storage: Samsung 960 EVO 250GB NVME M.2 PCIe SSD
Color(s): Black Blue Purple Red White
RGB Lighting? Yes
Cooling: Custom Liquid Cooling
Theme: TV & Movie
Type: General Build
Lots of upgrades and changes - 3900X, new Mobo, Samsung B-Die, Riser Cable Removal, Acetal CPU Top, Monitor, Mic, etc.!
Hey everyone! Big changes have been made to this system since the original build and update. Some of this has been prompted by an unfortunate catastrophic leak from the CPU Block that damaged the top x16 PCIe slot and GPU Riser Cable on the X470 Taichi. This means that I'll have to replace the motherboard as the 2080ti is the first consumer GPU that has managed to become bottlenecked by the x8 PCIe interface and thus requires an x16 slot to function fully. Additionally, I have now lost the GPU Riser Cable. This means I'll have to set it horizontally the traditional way for now. This may change in the future. We'll see.
Fortunately that was all that was damaged and I'm in talks with EKWB to have that situation sorted out as it's the second CPU Unit that has leaked on me. The good news though is that this has prompted a number of major changes, including switching to an Acetal CPU Unit that will not cause this issue again.
So! First up, new motherboard and CPU! Motherboard has now been changed (not necessarily upgraded), to an ASUS X470 Crosshair VII. CPU has gained a massive upgrade to the newly released AMD Ryzen 9 3900X! This is exciting as it finally removes the bottleneck that the 2700x was putting on my 2080ti. This has been a really great upgrade. Though, this hasn't been without its challenges due to the numerous BIOS concerns surrounding the 3rd Gen Ryzen. Luckily, I've always kept a steady arm's length on the matter so that I could only upgrade to BIOS versions that did not cause issues or did what I wanted it to. I currently am on a modified BIOS version which has been quite stable for me, but I will soon be moving it up to the current 188.8.131.52 ABBA. This motherboard change also forces me to remove the 1TB SATA m.2 SSD as using both forces the top x16 slot to function in x8 mode which is not acceptable for a 2080ti, so this drive will move to the server. This also means that now only the 500GB NVMe and 4TB SATA SSD drives are in this main system. Which is fine.
Next up, RAM! The Corsair RAM that I had before turned out to be a massive surprise as though the two sets I had were identical in model and specifications, it turns out that they were entirely different designs of the same RAM. They were of two different processes, and one was single rank, while the other dual rank. In general this all leads to a mess of potential performance scaling. Between this and the potential performance improvements that could arise from memory overclocking (along with the news that B-Die would be discontinued), I decided to upgrade to buy a 32GB (2x16GB Dual Rank) 3200cl14 Samsung B-Die kit of G.Skill Trident Z RGB memory. This has also been pretty interesting for performance. I've seen some pretty straightforward performance improvements just by sitting on XMP, but the real interesting thing is that I now have an entire new area to overclock with. And one that historically has yielded better results than the CPU overclocking itself. We'll see what happens with this.
Some smaller internal tidbits that have changed or will change. I've changed the Reservoir tube to hold more capacity. This was mainly for aesthetic reasons really, because the one that came with the kit seemed super tiny. I've also purchased an aluminum valve (took months to deliver from china, since EK doesn't actually make any aluminum ball valves) and some Quick-Disconnect Connectors. These should at some point serve as an easier way of draining my loop. Haven't yet decided which one I'll go with.
Keyboard: The Massdrop CTRL! This keyboard is new and is absolutely glorious, but it's not perfect. There were some major chatter (double key press) issues that have since been largely resolved for me by some firmware updates. Additionally, as an audiophile who's been obsessing over sound and silence in this build, I noticed that the keyboard LEDs emit a rather annoying high frequency sound. Not all colors and brightness levels do this. Just worth noting. It's also not that loud. As soon as you play something or the fans in the computer ramp up it's no longer audible.
Monitor: Replacing the AOC monitor from before I've now acquired the incredible Samsung C49RG90 49" Super-Ultrawide monitor! This thing is an absolute beast, but has presented so many new performance and useability challenges that I've never before encountered. These specifically occur with having to do Game Streaming / Recording. Beyond this, everything else is rather manageable. But suffice it to say, that combining gaming, with streaming, and recording maxes out the performance that the 3900x and 2080ti is capable of producing at the moment and it's a big struggle to make it work. For this exact reason, I've now turned my second PC that was acting as a Server (still is), into a game streaming PC and I now have a 2 PC Streaming Setup. This is still being worked on but is already active and works quite well. May consider getting some more accessories soon to simplify this, like an Elgato Stream deck.
Speakers: Replacing the Adam T5V Studio Monitors, I've now got a pair of KEF Q150 Bookshelf speakers! Truly an upgrade from a musical perspective and also from a noise perspective as these speakers have no self noise from the built in amplifiers of the Adam T5Vs. Frankly, I think these speakers sound way more expensive than they cost. Good buy in my opinion, and I was willing to spend quite a bit more on other speakers.
Microphone, Stand & Interface: I've upgraded my microphone solution! The Microphone itself is now the Samson Q2U Dynamic Microphone, held by the Blue Compass Microphone Stand, and plugged in via XLR into an Audient iD4 Audio Interface. This combination is absolutely stellar! I don't think you could get a better setup for the price.
DAC/AMPs + acc: So, the audio setup has also been upgraded quite a bit. As a DAC I've upgraded the RME ADI-2 DAC which is very firmly my endgame territory for DACs. This is outputting to two devices: S.M.S.L. DA-8 Power Amplifier for the KEF Q150 speakers, and the Massdrop x THX AAA 789 Linear Headphone Amplifier. Additionally, I've got some nice custom cables that have been acquired for the interconnect of these devices. Oh and before I forget, I added something that I firmly thought would end up being snake oil, but it turned out not to be - namely the iFi Audio iGalvanic. This device provides Galvanic Isolation which helps eliminate almost all, if not all, electrical noise coming from the PC itself into the DAC (and yes, it was audible when not listening to music before - very easily reproducible).
Keyboard Wrist rest: With the new smaller keyboard I wanted to have a wrist rest that matched the Tenkeyless size, but soon realized this isn't exactly common. So in the end I had to get a Glorious Padded Keyboard Wrist Rest.
Whew! I think that was it so far. I need to update this page more regularly so it's not just this giant wall of text. Hmm. I'll also need to update the description I suppose.
So what's next? Well, the current plan is to slowly order copper parts to replace the aluminum water loops because in general I am fed up with the EK Fluid Gaming kit and all of the insane limitations brought forth by Aluminum. Telling you all right now, until EK gets their shit and options together, I will never recommend that kit to anyone. The performance is fine. The kit is good, don't get me wrong. But the moment you need any single thing more than they provide, you are royally screwed. Two basic examples of things that should be available? Acetal top CPU unit (or top as a spare part - since it's identical to the Supremacy EVO), some kind of Aluminum Ball valve to drain the loop, and some male-to-male connectors to actually be able to attach said valve. Until I ordered these on aliexpress from some random company, I had to use the T-Splitter that you can buy extra, together with a 90 degree angle fitting and a stopper on it as a drain valve. Oh and I couldn't even use that properly because there were no M-M connectors, so the only way to use it was to use a normal fitting on one of the ports of the pump, add a tube, add another fitting to the t-splitter, and add a 90 degree angle fitting to another hole, and then add another fitting and tube to complete the loop (or don't and just make it and there. Point is, you've got some weird backwards ways of setting this up and it makes no sense that this should be "for watercooling beginners" as EK claims the aluminum kits are for. Nonsense. Stay away from those.
So, copper watercooling will be next. Additionally I'll likely be upgrading the storage in the server PC, elgato stream deck for easier streaming controls, and perhaps some better lighting for streams and videos (elgato key light maybe?). Who knows? Onto the next steps!
Commander Pro, More RGB, Full SSD (4TB+500GB+250GB), CableMod Cables!