Tuesday, July 9, 2013

3930k and X79 chipset rig - THE FACTS

3D evolves, HD video demands resources yet INTEL's X79 chipset with LGA2011 socket looks promising for now and I decided to go for an upgrade. It was few months adventure of carefully picking up the components that should work nice and stable next few years as my digital tool.

The purpose of this blog is to help other people who wants to work (or read) about this or similar configurations. I know it could be worse or better but this was my choice.


I have been fan of ASUS motherboards since 2001/02 when I bough my first ASUS TUSL2 and P4B-266 motherboards. I was amazed with their stability and compatibility. P5B, P5K and P5Q PRO confirmed my trust so this time I made the same choice with ASUS P9X79 PRO. I was thinking about SABERTOOTH or standard P9X79 motherboards but after some comparisons, PRO version is simply the best choice and perfect balance of features, quality and price. DELUXE version is seamlessly expensive, WS (work station) version has no PCI slots so, PRO is just fine. I will not talk about its specifications and detailed features because it can be found on ASUS official site...

Facts based on few weeks of experience:
  • X79 has 8 slots for RAM and supports up to 64 gigs of RAM. Use that feature for RAM / DISC feature or smoother video editing BUT full RAM speed is questionable if you use all DIMMs so review ASUS compatibility listing before choosing modules. For best results, revise kits of 16,32 or 64 gigs because X.M.P. feature will be most stable if you consider memory combination you want.
  • ASUS SSD CACHING solution is not stable and a bit expensive way to have faster system. It has issues because drivers chase so buying bigger SSD for OS is absolutely better choice. If you dont want to use SSD CACHING be sure to setup system drive on MARVEL controller (read the manual for details) and you will avoid boot up lags. ASUS SSD CACHING feature will not work properly if initiated with drive with more than one partition so, you should initiate SSD CACHING on one partition drive and make additional partitions after completed initialization. All this issues with ASUS SSD CACHING makes me uncomfortable...
  • Too many overclocking parameters and be ready for BSODs with wrong ones! Do we have time to experiment???
  • Simple SATA configuration changes in BIOS might corrupts OS installation. This was not an issue on my ex ASUS P5Q PRO mobo so be careful.
  • If you want 32 gigs of RAM - go for 32 gigs KIT or you will not be able to use XMP profile but just default 1600mhz speeds or have to go with frustrating manual overclocks. BUT - latest BIOS updates resolves all issues!
  • Check the BIOS updates for more compatibility and stability. Its relative new chipset...

MEMORY CHOICE - 8x4GB of INTEL MASTERS EXTREME 2133mhz (CL11), 1600mhz (CL9)

Limited edition modules, official memory of world gaming league as I red somewhere. PATRIOT DDR3 with speeds of 2133mhz and CL11 latency. Its design looks nice on P9X79 because of paired blue colors of its high profile cooler. There are many kinds of enthusiast memories on the market, sometimes hard to decide which one to buy but, if we look better, most of them are very similar technically just with different cooling design. Speeds and latencies are things we all should think about and be thoughtful about its high profiles, ask ourselves how will it fit with our CPU and case capabilities...! This memory supports XMP profile. It is hardware overclocking information that should initialized in mobo BIOS to gain true memory benefits. Otherwise, modules will run at 1600mhz instead of its marked speeds. If you want 32 gigs system, buy 32 kit or XMP will make problems! If you want 16 gigs system, buy 16 gigs kit and so on...

Check the BIOS updates for more stable XMP DDR profile!

CPU - INTEL Core i7 3930k

Expensive CPU indeed and it would be ok if its just processor you need to pay that big amount of money. Unfortunately, somehow whole X79 LGA2011 will magically suck the money out from your pocket. I could say 3 facts about this CPU:
  • the processor requires water cooling (and its not cheap...),
  • it is shame to have it if you dont need its power
  • if you need it it is shame to have it without 16,24 or 32 gigs of enthusiast RAM.
Its dirty expensive so think well do you need this monster urgently. Perhaps, you can be happy with 50% cheaper i7 4770! On the other hand, when I compared it with 3960x or 3970x EXTREME editions, 3930k gains better value for its price. EXTREME is a bit faster with few more megabytes of cash but far more expensive...

VGA - ASUS G Force GTX 660 Direct CU 2 OC, 2GB

Between many cards on the market, with various designs, chipsets and memories... as a balance of performance / price / design, my choice was ASUS G Force GTX 660 Direct CU 2 OC, 2GB. Great cooling design, decent chipset, direct CUDA and 2 gigs or speed RAM, enough reason to get this card. Its great balance between gaming and working with motion graphic and editing software. 

The facts are:
  • Great cooling design with 2 silent fans giving a low temperatures on full OC loads
  • Good price for the top brand, integrated chipset and amount of memory
  • Connect up to 4 monitors with no fear with its 2 gigs of RAM
  • Fast response in V-Ray RT rendering in 3D apps
  • Easy desktop VBIOS update.

Interesting... easy VGA BIOS update from desktop:

THE CASE - Thermaltake Chaser A31 - black the FACTS:
  • Solid design
  • Good cable management
  • Good fan management
  • 2 low noise fans included
  • Good disk management
  • CORSAIR H100 and other coolers with big radiator ARE NOT recommended for this case if you use X79 motherboards because the only way they fit is to separate radiator and its fans with case grill and you dont want that because airflow will be bad. 
  • 1 SSD case suppor
  • Please revise fan and software setup as described bellow for best cooling performance!!!
When installing thermal demanding components like P9X79 and 3930k with all DIMMs filled up, it is MUST to think about air flow combination. I made many!!! combinations with fans to get temps as low as possible. Image bellow shows THE BEST fans setup so you dont have to loose your time like I did. Any fans combination beside the one on the image will heat your motherboard up to 55 degrees C, and the CPU up to even 90 degrees C on full load and that is something you would not like.... I am sure this setup will be valid even for other cases with similar design.

Here is the best fan hardware AND ASUS AI SUITE SOFTWARE setup with full system load

Dust filters:

Front panel with USB 3, shut down and reset switches:

Under the hood:

3 hard disc slots could be taken out for longer video cards:

Such a simple and well organized cable management holes:

Upper extra space for water cooling (not recommended) or 2 120mm fans with dust filter:

Front intake with 2 fan slots:

CPU COOLER - Corsair H80i

CPU i7 3930k requires better cooling. I dont attend to do any extreme overclocking, so, considering case capabilities and cooler performances... my choice was water solution Corsair H80i. It gives solid cooling performances with optional PUSH and PULL airflow options, it will fit fine on the back of the Chaser A31 WITH SLIGHT SCREWS MODIFICATIONS and X79 motherboards with "high profile" memory modules installed and, it is quieter than former model H80. I would have nothing against H100 but - IT WILL NOT FIT THIS CASE with ATX motherboards and high profile DDR memory modules! It will fit only if you separate radiator and its fans with case grill as I explained before.

Head pump with software control of speed, tact and LED color:

Fits well on the back side of the case:

CORSAIR stock fans are a bit laud when the CPU gets heat up but those can be replaced with some other low noise fans. The fans should be better quality like NOCTUA because, cheaper fans will melt under raising temperatures during full CPU loads!