Description

Here I wrote why I built it.

And this are the posts about GPU, PC case and CPU choices (more to follow).

Everything worked the first time I turned it on (the 6th photo), but the cable management (the 2nd photo) and tweaking the fan settings to find the balance between the noise and CPU temperature took a bit of time. Now it's super quiet when idle with the total of 10 fans - I expected CoolerMaster H500m together with fans of Asus Ryujin 360 to be much louder.

Asus AI Overclocking got it to 5-5.1Ghz on all cores without any problem and CPU never got over 70ºC.

Asus ROG Strix 2080 Ti GPU occasionally gets to 79ºC - I am going to install the additional temperature sensors that came with Asus Maximus XI Extreme motherboard and make some fan curve(s) dependent on it - Fan Xpert doesn't use GPU temperature directly.

EDIT: the fan curves for the GPU own fans should be set in Asus GPU Tweek II - getting the fan speeds range from 30% at 45ºC to 65% at 70ºC (it gets really noisy at higher speeds than 65%) lowered the max temperature to 68ºC - it never gets any higher even at 2100MHz.

Part Reviews

CPU

Here I wrote why I chose it.

Intel is a bit annoying with the wide acceptable quality range of their CPUs, that is if you didn't get a good one - especially for unlocked CPUs. Announcing i9-9900KS only makes it more annoying.

ASUS BIOS previously had "silicon quality" score used in AI Overclocking allowing to understand how good/bad your CPU is from that range, but they've removed it quietly (no idea who asked them). It is obviously still used in AI Overclocking algorithm.

A fairer approach from Intel would be to make the CPU quality transparent and differentiate the pricing by the quality - as with some memory. Or at least create 3 quality buckets with different pricing as with some GPUs - standard, advanced, overclocking (which they did in a way with 9900KS, but it also has some other changes, not only better silicon).

CPU Cooler

A very good CPU AIO. You need to have ASUS motherboard to monitor system stats - no point having this AIO otherwise.

Armoury crate software that you need to control it is not super stable, and sometimes after cold boot it doesn't show stats until you restart - it is annoying, but ASUS is improving it step by step (Armoury crate is relatively new, previously Live Dash was used to control it).

ASUS AI Overclocking estimates cooler efficiency with a score - I got it from initial 160 (that ASUS says AIO should be) to 190 with a Kryonaut compound. So even though I clearly didn't win silicon lottery, AI Overclocking gets my i9-9900K to 5.1GHz (with 5GHz on all cores above default 4.7Ghz).

Motherboard

Maximus XI Extreme is the best Z390 motherboard with LGA1151 socket that ASUS has (and I think it's simply the best).

The cheaper Maximus XI motherboards have VRMs that according to some users overheat, apparently due to ASUS design decision (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLO-vYjJN-I), but this board has a better VRM. The only viable alternative is Apex (that is the best for overclocking), and it is £100 cheaper so I seriously considered it, but it has two disadvantages compared with Extreme:

  • only 2 memory slots. Even though it supports double capacity DIMMs so you can still have 64Gb, these double capacity DIMMs were not available anywhere.
  • simpler sound processor, so the features that other ASUS boards have will not be available (whether you need them is another question)

Extreme is E-ATX size, so even with the cases that support it may have more difficulties mounting it (as is the case with CM H500M where this board partially covers cable management windows).

Video Card

ASUS ROG Strix 2080 Ti (OC) has fantastic performance in all latest games on 3440x1440 monitor - with all settings on Max/Ultra you usually get 60-100 fps, depending on the game (even Shadow of Tomb Rider never get under 60fps and normally it is higher).

Here I wrote why I chose it.

Either all OC variants are that good or I got lucky - my GPU is stable at 2100Mhz and doesn't get any hotter than 68-72ºC (with most games it never goes over 68ºC, with SOTR it is heating up to 72ºC - possibly because it uses ray-tracing cores?).

If you want to have consistent 60fps in all games on 4K monitor (or 100+ fps in most games on 3440x1440) you would need the second linked GPU though.

Case

It is a very good case, probably the best there is for a gaming PC at the moment.

Here I wrote why I chose it.

There are three things that could have been better though:

  • cable management windows that are next to the motherboard and allow to hide the cables better are partially covered by E-ATX motherboard. Once the motherboard is installed, it is not possible to pass the cables through, they have to be passed in advance, but that would make the board installation much more difficult. Without doing it though it's quite difficult to install front cable cover (that also has mounts for SSDs). All it would take to avoid this problem would be to move the windows just 0.5-1cm (!) to the front of the case - it wouldn't require a bigger case, just a bit smaller front cable cover. In my case I simply didn't use front cable cover, as I don't have SSDs other than M2 stick plugged into the motherboard and cables look good anyway.
  • the PCI card slots window. It would be nice to have rotating slots window to install 2 GPUs vertically, as even though there is one vertical mounting slot, GPU overheats there as it's too close to the glass. You could use CM mounting bracket, but you wouldn't be able to mount the second card in this case (other than in the stock vertical slot where it overheats).
  • top fan grill is too narrow even for 120mm fans (see the top photo in the build https://uk.pcpartpicker.com/b/M2dXsY) - airflow would have been better if the grill was wider and only allowed mounting 3x120mm fans. I understand that CM wanted to have more generic grill design in case there are no fans on the top or if you use 140mm fans, but 1) you can only have 2 x 140mm fans, 3 x 120 makes more sense and 2) they could have designed the grill to look good without the fans and still allow more airflow with the fans. I was considering cutting the holes under the fans, but it's probably a micro-optimisation.

Power Supply

The best PSU there is I believe, with 10 years warranty, unless you need more than 1200W. ASUS Thor models are the only PSUs with the indicator showing the current power consumption (it's a gimmick of course:). I've initially bought 850W but then exchanged it to 1200W to allow the second GPU (so some photos show a slightly smaller 850W PSU).

Monitor

For < £600 it's a fantastic monitor. 3440 x 1440 / 21:9 is the size that gives you more view area in games, also in movies you don't have top and bottom black areas - I definitely prefer watching movies on this monitor rather than on 50" 16:9 TV.

Colours may feel a bit off at times, and indeed when I opened calibration in Windows the greens had to be reduced. If money were no object I would have bought the new PG35VQ for £2600, but under £1000 this one seems to be the best for casual gaming and movies.

Also the cable cover on the back is difficult to detach - be careful with it. ASUS must have done a better job - it just feels cheep that they didn't provide a way to release the clip without nearly breaking it (and I actually broke one clip).

Comments

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

This is a beautiful build. Did you leave the PSU exposed because the Thor is a top-fan model? Or is it for aesthetics? If so, how's dust management?

Would love to see more photos!

  • 2 months ago
  • 2 points

Thank you!

The back shroud was covering the fan and the power indicator, and even with the removed window it looked weird - the highlighted logo was partially covered... So mainly for aesthetics, of course :) I don’t see any dust inside yet after a couple of months - I guess H500M has decent filters.

I will upload more photos tomorrow.

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

That would be awesome, thank you! Your parts are practically identical to the parts I've chosen for my dream build (only difference being an ATX motherboard) and they all come together a lot nicer than I was anticipating.

I had some questions, if you'd entertain them:

  1. How was the H500M to work in?
  2. Are you using the stock 140mm exhaust fan on the rear?
  3. Did you have all the right connectors for your cables? ie, you didn't need any expansion cards or RGB hubs to get things working?
  4. My biggest concern is the compatibility (aka, 'fit') of the Thor PSU with the shroud, but you've made it look so comfortable without it and I'm wondering if I even need it. However, with the shroud off, did you have relocate the fan controller? Or are you not using it?

Again... beautiful build. Well done.

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

What motherboard are you considering? I was choosing between Asus Extreme and Apex.

  1. H500M was quite easy, everything fits ok. The only annoying thing was that while E-ATX fits well, you cannot use cable management windows easily - they are partially covered by the motherboard. Theoretically you could pass the power cable through the window first and attach motherboard later - but I’ve only realised it after all the 9 screws were in place and didn’t want to change it. That’s one of the reasons front cable cover is not attached (I’d have to push it quite hard, it also looks better without it), but there are a lot of place to hide the cables behind, so you can only see motherboard and GPU cables from the front, and I’ve also left CPU power cables visible on the back.
  2. 140mm fan - yes, but I moved it closer to the top of the case and attached fan controller card below it, above the cards
  3. Yes, Thor has more than enough cables for power (motherboard, CPU, GPU, case controller and Ryujin need power) and the case had all the cables needed to connect the ports to motherboard etc. Motherboard has 2 addressable RGB terminals - I connected one to the PSU and another to the Ryujin). I later removed the splitter for the 2 front fans as otherwise you cannot control their speed. I’ve only bought system beeper for < £2 but I am yet to connect it.
  4. I’ve actually later replaced 850w with 1200w in case I decide to get the second GPU - it’s a bit bigger than on the photo. You can keep the shroud in place, I now remember that it does not cover the indicator if you remove the window in the shroud, but it still looked better without it.

I don’t think you can attach fan controller to this shroud - it can be attached to SSD socket (they are on the cable cover that I didn’t use, so I simply screwed this controller to the case back grille - it sits there ok). I only use this controller for thermal sensors, I don’t have any fans attached to it, there are plenty free terminals on the motherboard if you want more fans. So you could simply not use it at all.

I’ve also later moved Ryujin fans to the top of the case (I added the photo) so the air is pushed in rather than out - it improved the cooling - and also replaced the stock paste with kryonaut - it made it cool noticeable better (after 3 attempts to apply it :) Asus BIOS shows cooler score of 190 now, while it started from 160. I didn’t win silicon lottery though, so 5.1Ghz is not very stable with AI overclocking - need to tweak it manually I guess...

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for the advice and updated photos. Looks sleek!

I'm looking at the Maximus XI Formula. As far as the ASUS models go, I think it's one step down from yours, but it has most (if not all) the Extreme features in an ATX sizing. The main reason I chose the Formula rather than the Hero (or even the Z390-E) is that it has more than one USB 3.0 header. I'd need at least two to connect the front panel ports (without having to purchase an extension card, at least). I was considering Gigabyte boards for a while as well, but I haven't managed to find a single one of even their upper-tier boards having more than one USB 3.0 header.

The screen on the Formula is a nice bonus that, paired with the screen on the Ryujin, should give me a lot of flexibility as to what I can display. I was concerned at first that the Ryujin would obstruct the motherboard screen, but I've seen build photos using both parts, and it appears to be only a minor impact at most.

YouTube tech reviewer Tech Deals did a 'cadillac' build with an EATX board in the H500M and noted it was a bit of a pain, much like you noted - then again, he had a lot more RGB components than you did. I'm happy with the stock rear exhaust fan and the Noctua fans on the Ryujin.

With your AIO fans set to intake, are your front fans set to intake as well? I'd imagine you'd have fairly highly positive pressure with 2x 200mm and 3x 120mm intakes, but only 1x 140mm exhaust (I suppose you could count the PSU and graphics card fans as exhaust?)

The only other different part of my build is I'm holding out for a 9900KS - thereby hopefully bypassing any issues I may get from a regular binned model. Have you thought about upgrading to that? It'd be a minor thing at most. Your build is a top performer as it is.

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

Formula is an excellent choice for custom water-cooling. I've never seen anybody integrating Ryujin in a custom loop though :) I've just added motherboard review - I was choosing between Apex (ATX) and Extreme, and if double capacity DIMMs were available I would have chosen Apex (see the link and there is another video from Buildzoid - he believes Apex is the best value - I agree).

Re monitoring screens, Ryujin cycles multiple parameters anyway and it's a better screen than what Formula/Extreme have. Not sure about USB in Apex though.

Re intake fans of Ryujin - the case has plenty of holes to let the air out - the whole back wall is effectively one big grill, so I wasn't too worried about positive pressure, and possibly it helps to keep the dust out. CPU cooling noticeably improved once I flipped the fans as the air inside is definitely warmer than outside - around 30-35ºC.

9900KS is indeed a better option - I wrote what I think about Intel CPU binning in the review :) - but most games are GPU bound anyway, so I'm not considering the upgrade until I add the 2nd GPU and the next generation comes out.

  • 26 days ago
  • 1 point

Excellent build, looks great with all the RGB. One question though: you said you switched out your Thor 850w for a 1200w model, for "the second GPU". Since the pictures and the parts list say that you only used a single 2080ti, have you added a second GPU or planning to?

  • 21 days ago
  • 1 point

Thank you. Still thinking about the second card. Several things hold me back (apart from the cost:):

1) RDR2 I play most lately seems to have no official SLI support (some people did manage though it seems), and as is it has decent 50-80fps at almost all highest settings on 3440x1440.

2) The motherboard has 3 slots distance between the cards, and the card is 2.7 slots, so if I get the same second card, the top one would not get enough air. One of the builds here tried to address it with the additional fan blowing into the gap, but the top card was still overheating even at 85-90% power (and mine runs on 125-130%)

Possible options are:

1) somebody suggested to put ASUS blower card on top (or some other thinner 2080 ti card) - I don’t like this idea tbh

2) install the second card one slot down and use a short riser cable and 4 slot SLI bridge - it probably would work, but feels wrong somehow - the second card would need to be supported, also it may not fit if something sticks out of the motherboard under the card and riser socket - I may try it though.

3) some special vertical mount for 2 GPUs - it looks like it should be possible to have something similar to CM vertical GPU holder, but occupying both horizontal and vertical slots - nobody designed it though yet...

So maybe I’ll just wait till the next generation and upgrade to thinner cards - NVIDIA cards are 2 slots thick and should be ok with 3 slots distance.