My wife let me build a new desktop as my Christmas present this year. My intent was to build a sweet rig for things like GNS3, Plex, Handbrake and some A/V editing by dropping a hot CPU, high memory capacity, RAIDing a few NAS HDDs together for storage and mirroring 2 smaller economy SSDs for OS and critical programs. Tie them all together with a strong, but economical, motherboard and I could build a pretty sweet rig for under $800, right? Well, this isn’t Linus Tech Tips so I didn’t get to push together everything at once, but I think I did alright.
- Gigabyte 970-Gaming-SLI $65 on sale, total $45 with mail-in rebate – Newegg
- AMD FX-8370 8 core 4.0GHz 4x2MB l2 8MB l3 with Wraith Cooler $150 on sale – Newegg
- 1x PNY CS1311 2.5″ 120GB SATA III – $40, now $35 – Newegg
- Zotac GeForce GT 730 4GB DDR3 PCIe 2.0 $45 off the shelf – Best Buy
EVGA 700 B1 100-B1-0700-K1 80+ BRONZE 700W $50 – Newegg
2x ADATA XPG V1.0 8GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 $80 on sale – Newegg
- 2x Corsair AF140 140mm Fans w/ Red LEDs $11ea – Amazon
- 2x Corsair AF120 120mm Fans w/ Red LEDs $11ea – Newegg
1x HGST Deskstar NAS 3TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s $120 – Newegg
ENERMAX OSTROG ECA3253-BR Mid Tower $40 on sale – Newegg
So, notes on the build. I budgeted $100 on the motherboard then I chose based on 3 filters:
- Integrated USB 3.1 on type A so I can do things like quickly transfer files on a 3.1 thumb drive, stand up good quality heavier Linux and Windows VMs in VmWare Player, or rapidly charge my phone.
- DDR3 dual channel. I love the speeds of DDR4, but I don’t need them. I can max this motherboard (64GB) for much cheaper than I could if I picked a DDR4 board. I need memory so I can have Wireshark, GNS3, and a browser all pumping at the same time. This meets that mark without breaking the wallet.
- AM3+ socket. I didn’t want to go on-board for graphics and I definitely didn’t want Intel prices. The AMD FX-8370 was perfect and I caught it when the difference between the chip alone vs with the Wraith Cooler was only three dollars.
The Gigabyte 970-Gaming-SLI fit my needs, was 35 bucks under budget, has M.2, plus it’s lightly ruggedized. Other quick notes: the SSD was a cheap solution to get fast boot (less than a sip of coffee on the Windows 10 logo); the vid card was just a cheap video output, but actually plays New Vegas at around 40FPS on high, not bad for the price; PSU was cheap and has enough spare potential to keep the fan quiet even at the max the PC can draw; ADATA RAM, because cheap and effective; Corsair AF series fans are super quiet and look great; HGST Deskstar NAS 3TB because cheap for the high MTTF and raiding in the additions won’t hurt my feelings/wallet; Enermax Ostrog case, cheap and looks nice (though not the best cable management, my CPU bundle sticks out like a sore thumb). I also had 3 160GB WD Blues Sata III 5400 in the drawer, so I striped them together for kicks.
I’m impressed. For less than $600 I’m getting this result out of handbrake.
Wow. I was doing this before on a Dell I15 ultrabook with the I7 4500-U running Ubuntu 14.04. Now you cannot, in any world, compare the performance of an older ultrabook processor to an 8370. Still, this is cut my encoding time to 1/10 of burden. And sure, there are other factors further boosting that number too, so let’s go to the Prime95 results.
BAM! So, when the test queued the workers, the CPU jumped into Turbo on each core before they settled into throughput-per-core. This capture is thirty minutes into the test and I’m writing this as it continues to run. The Mobo/CPU/Wraith are in perfect harmony. It took about ten minutes to climb to 49C and then the board drew a line in the sand. The Wraith picked up speed, taking the CPU back to a steady 46C and the heat spread through the case for another ten minutes before the two other board fans took more speed, but we’re still at 46.5C. Even better, it’s nearly silent. Fan config is Top/out=2xAF140(molex-to-3pin), Rear/out=1xOstrog120mm; Front/in=unknownspare120mm; bottom/in=2xAF120(molex-to-3pin). I just killed Prime95 and the Wraith took the chip to under 30C in ten seconds and at 20 seconds all temp sensors are at normal 25C (my office is cold). Not bad for AMD.
I’m not done with this guy. I’m going to swap out the vid card for something in the $200 range eventually for a HTPC setup, add two more of those Adata sticks so I can put a ridiculous number of routers in GNS3 or even open two tabs in Chrome (if you don’t get it, check your RAM usage), pull the 3 WD Blue 160s and raid in 3 more of the 3TB HGST HDDs, add a fan controller and temp probes for for the Corsairs, and add an M.2 stick to put my Steam games on. Speaking of which, I put Skyrim on the 3 striped WD Blues. Skyrim moves between loading screens so quickly that I can’t read the tips. First world problems.