Description

This is actually about 6 months old and a little out of date. I have currently changed to a totally air cooled system and my GPU setup has entirely changed but I had the pics and this may be of interest to some people.

This is a workstation PC, primarily used for 3D motion graphics using Cinema 4D and Octane renderer. (for those interested, it hits well over 300 in octane benchmark) I also do some game dev in Unity 3D, video editing and general Adobe CC use and of course, gaming.

I'll do a quick run down of the interesting parts and try to explain my rational.

Case Gorgeous case by cooltek, the EU resellers of the jonsbo line (rosewill in the US I think). It's like a daddy version of the nCase, which I have pictured for comparison. (stay tuned for a mobile workstation build in that) This case is really compact, comparable to many mATX cases in size yet able to accommodate masses of hardware, and 8 PCI slots, perfect for me. I really appreciate the understated, clean design but there's also a windowed version if you're a fan of that.

CPU I needed 40 PCIe lanes with the highest clock speed. I wasn't concerned with core count as my GPUs do most of the heavy lifting. This fit my requirements perfectly.

Motherboard I wanted something very reliable that could potentially accommodate up to 4 GPUs. This fit the bill nicely.

RAM Capacity over speed. Nice reliable RAM, no need personally to spend more on anything faster. Will probably upgrade to 64GB soon as I'm starting to push the limits of 32GB with certain simulations.

Storage 750 is my boot and applications, really fast, perfect. Samsung m.2 is a scratch disc. Samsung 500GB is for all my current projects and resources I need to reference regularly. Everything else is on my NAS. Samsung 1TB, Steam library. A man has too have his priorities.

PSU Needed something very reliable and able to power a butt load of GPUS.

Silverstone Card reader Nice little find. Also has a couple of SSD mounts which I utilised as it made cable management easier. I know that it's position is not the most accessible but it doesn't bother me as I'm not a professional photographer and only need an SD card reader every few months, but I do need it and it's nice to have an inbuilt solution that's out of the way.

GPUs This is obviously not geared towards gaming. These cards were picked with CUDA performance in mind. Titan Z is still the best single card for Octane and at £750 on eBay this has been a great workhorse of a GPU. (I actually recently sold it for £860) the 6GB 780s were there for extra rendering power and I needed the 6GB to handle all the textures and 3D scene data. This wasnt too bad in terms of noise but the temps did consistently hit 83ºC on almost all cards so eventually I ended up completely changing my GPU setup that I will detail in another build post! In terms of CUDA rendering this machine ripped through anything at insane speeds and helped me hit deadlines I wouldnt have been able to meet otherwise. So in that regard the build was a success. Although I personally found it too noisy and too hot to put up with for too long.

If anyone is insterested I now have two 980tis (windforce xtreme) that stay really quiet and really cool. I am also in the process of building an eGPU build to provide the extra rendering horsepower when those tight deadlines arise.

EDIT: NO SLI BRIDGE? DAFUQ I've already had one comment about this so I thought I'd save the pain and address it here. A) There is actually internal SLI on the titan Z. B) With regards to the 780s Octane prefers the cards to not be in SLI. It treats each GPU as a separate CUDA compute device so it actually sees 4GPUs with this build. Having anything in SLI does not improve CUDA performance it only introduces complications. Not having the cards in SLI also lets me freely toggle GPUs on and off for rendering depending on what else I need to do. So when gaming with this build I used the titan Z in SLI. Otherwise no SLI. Hopefully this is clear!

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Comments

  • 50 months ago
  • 3 points

PSHHH. . . .That's it? That's all you got? lol JK, Amazing build. definite power house! to be honest you can probably power a small 3rd world country with this. . .

  • 50 months ago
  • 3 points

I know right! It did help keep my home office warm in the winter months haha

  • 50 months ago
  • 2 points

No SLI bridge?

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Probably isn't necessary for his purposes.

  • 50 months ago
  • 3 points

Correct, for rendering, an SLI bridge is completely useless and would probably hinder the 3d program.

Plus, the titan Z already has built in SLI, so in a way you can say he does have SLI. :)

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you! haha I had just edited my description explaining this! :)

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

No worries. :)

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

Octane render Doesn't use sli C :

  • 50 months ago
  • 2 points

Nice rig! It's nice to see video cards being used for something more beneficial than gaming.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

thanks man! :)

  • 50 months ago
  • 2 points

im going to have to look into that case. have not seen it before, and it looks amazing! great modding potential! +1

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah it's awesome, can't recommend it enough! One thing to be aware of is that it's CPU cooler height limit is quite short for an ATX case, about 165mm I think.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

If I were to get that case I would get a custom loop for it so no worries haha!

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

awesome!

  • 50 months ago
  • 2 points

Beautiful photos, beautiful build, beautiful graphics card combination, beautiful price/performance.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you very much sir!

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

You're welcome.

  • 50 months ago
  • 2 points

where did you get that amazon box guy from?

  • 50 months ago
  • 2 points

amazon

:P

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

;l

  • 50 months ago
  • 2 points

wait I'm so confused. I read the desc but 2 small cards and one large one? 2 cases? Wahts going on.

It is a very nice build though :D

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

So the smaller case is the nCase, the bigger one is the W2. This build is in the W2. The nCase is there just to show design and size comparison.

The large GPU is a Titan Z and the smaller two are both 780s. They are used for rendering in 3D not for gaming so they do not need to be the same, they only need to be CUDA enabled. I hope that's a little clearer!

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Ahhh okay. Thank you that clears it up a lot!

  • 50 months ago
  • 2 points

This is a work of art, sir. +1 for beautiful setup

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you so much!

  • 50 months ago
  • 2 points

Nice build. I do have an suggestion - if possible just put a single picture of every angles of images you shoot. It's like looking multiple pictures of same image. It's too much to look at.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

thanks for the feedback, i'll look at cutting out some pictures!

  • 50 months ago
  • 2 points

Stunning and powerful workhorse, loving it +1 all damn day.

In fact you've thrown a spanner the works, just started putting together a parts list for a micro atx box, maybe it will be another full size after all hmm....

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

For gaming, I cant really see a need to go bigger than mATX. No one should really need more than 2 way SLI so a 5 slot mATX case should be fine. If you are building a work machine and need lots of hard drive bays or GPUs or want to do some fancy custom loop then I would definitely keep your options open and go for full ATX :)

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Agreed, purely workstation but without the need for multiple GPU's, fair amounts of storage yes, think mATX could pull it off... Thing is I've always built full ATX for myself and feel cautious about having a reduced number of PCIe slots, they often seem to find themselves filled with various add on cards over the life of the rig if you get what I mean :)

  • 50 months ago
  • 2 points

I know what you mean

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Glad you do!

Out of interest are the front fan filters removable via only magnets or do you have to use screws also?

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

They have screws as well as magnets, so you can use both or just magnets :)

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

I smell a feature,nice build tho.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks dude, being featured would be a dream! :')

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Amazing monster render muncher. +1

I'd like to see the twin 980ti version as well.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! :D I have room for a third card so I'm debating if and what that might be, or to go with an external GPU build. Once these decisions have been made I'll be sure to post it!

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

This should've been featured.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for saying that :) It would be an honor!

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Titan Z on ebay for £750? How?!?

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Right timing really. It was last year around May or June. There were a few second hand Titan Zs on sale then so prices were driven lower by competition. Now it seems they are really hard to come by!

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

You're telling me! ;) I'd love to get hold of one for work, but I don't fancy paying quadro pricing

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Well it really depends on your needs. Nvidia's 700 series has some very attractive options for CUDA-hungry users. 780tis are the best deal now in terms of price to performance when it comes to CUDA applications. The only problem is they only come with 3GB ram, which may or may not be an issue for you. Otherwise you could pick up a couple of titan blacks for around £700-£800 which would give you almost identical performance to a titan Z. 6GB 780s are also great, but they are also hard to find these days! Regarding quadros, there are very limited benefits to having one these days, at least for creative and design professionals, so yeah, don't get a quadro haha.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

a TITAN Z??? 2 780 6 GB?????? YOUR RIG DETECTS 4 GPU's???????? You know I've only had 3 heart attacks so far looking at some beast rigs here on PCPartPicker, and you should be glad I have 911 on speed dial because I- faints

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Hahaha! Sorry about the heart attack but.. Thanks?

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Lol, just trying to express what a beast of a build this is, the first time I looked at the pictures of the GPU's and saw that one of them had the fan placed in the middle I was a bit confused, but your description cleared it up and, damn, that's one hell of a setup!

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you so much! Lol

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

I have never seen a gpu that big

+1

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you!

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

You got me on the Titan z!:) +1

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Haha thanks!

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

pretty sweet deal on the Titan Z

and even better when you sold it for a profit

it a shame you didnt keep it

because that is a really rare GPU given the price of the GPU new

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

I do miss it! But it was time to move on for various reasons. And when I saw I could make a profit on it I decided to sell before pascal was released.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Why a Titan Z?

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

As I said in my description, it's still the single best card for Octane renderer. And at the price I got it for it was also a very good deal with price to performance.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Wait the Titan Z is 2 780s right? so if you would have an SLI bridge could you 4 way SLI? Or is that just silly?

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Technically the Titan Z is two Titan Blacks. But regardless, the only thing you can SLI with a Titan Z is another Titan Z :) which would actually be 4 way SLI, 2 GPUs in SLI per card.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Ah, but if the Titan Z was dual 780's and you had some kind of driver hack maybe it would be possible XD

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Maybe! haha

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

2 separate gpu groups for different applications? w-why am i poor/10

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Potentially, although usually they'd be used in unison on a single application that utilised CUDA

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

that's a crazy build :O I wanted to ask you something: aren't you going to buy a liquid loop for those GPUs? They are reference edition and they're three...So...I think that liquid cooling would be a fantastic solution with a powerful workstation like the one that you have just built...+1

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Liquid cooling is fantastic in certain scenarios. But I have stayed away from a custom loop for a few reasons. TLDR: I have air cooling to minimise downtime in case of a hardware failure and to keep my rig flexible.

The most important reason is reliability. It could have serious financial consequences for me if this machine fails and adding a custom loop means adding lots and lots more potential points of failure. Eg. Every single fitting is a potential leak point and I simply could not afford to have my entire machine out of action while I sort something like that out. Custom loops also require semi-frequent maintenance which I don't have the time for.

Second main reason is flexibility. Having the ability to really quickly swap out GPUs is really important for me, gives me lots of flexibility and allows me to potentially take some GPUS from this workstation to another workstation at another location without having to buy two of each GPU. This point of flexibility also ties into the previous point about reliability: If one of my GPUs fail I can just pull it out and put a new one in instantly. If this happened with a custom loop it would be a giant pain in the ***. haha

Sorry about the long answer!

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Nothing! I only wanted to know why you did that choice

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

How do you like that motherboard? I would've loved to use it but couldn't justify the extra cost. I read some owner reviews that stated they had slow boots that they blamed on the mobo-- not sure that it was really the cause but I'm just curious what your experience has been with it. Killer rig nice work!

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

well.. my boot drive is a 750 series intel nvme drive. It boots very quickly. Personally I have found the mobo to be rock solid. It's nice to have full compatibility with the xeon range too, so there are some nice possible upgrade paths with the CPU.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Loving the case man.!! I might actually buy the windowed version for my pc when I go to spain to visit the family. Buying it straight from the US is 300 dollars!

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah I think the only place it's affordable is in europe! Which is rare for PC parts haha I really recommend the case, hands down the best case I have ever owned. Beautiful and very compact for a full ATX!

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Agree man. I have the Phanteks Enthoo Pro, but I wanted put the pc on top of my desk. The Enthoo pro is amazing, but its just a little bit too big and not that elegant

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Where can I get the little Amazon box guy? Lol. Nice build man. I'm jealous.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks dude!

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Seriously though, where can I get one?

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

dunno if you're trolling lol.

If not, search for "danboard" ... and amazon sells the amazon version lol

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

I wasn't. It's actually really cool

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Hi, do you think this W2 case has air ventilation issue due to the design?

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

personally I haven't had any problems. Seems well ventilated and cools effectively.

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

Hi what desk are you using? C:

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful build. When I discovered your build I was in the process of researching a workstation build of my own, and your build inspired the one I just finished. (I have not posted it to PCPP yet.) I was also looking to build as powerful a system as possible in the smallest possible space, using a quality and aesthetically pleasing case. Although it seems to be out of production now, somehow I managed to snag the last new-in-box Cooltek W2 with the tempered glass window available on the internet, in black.

I'm also using the same Asus motherboard (except the newer X99-E-10G WS version) but with a Noctua NH-U12S. I tested it out with four GPUs by borrowing two from another build, granted the fourth GPU just barely fits due to the jumpers and audio/USB connectors at the bottom of the motherboard which prohibit the card from seating completely (though I verified that all the PCI-E connections on the card are fully inserted in the slot - it just doesn't latch up). Anyway, it does run with four GPUs (Pascal cards), but it runs pretty hot especially at idle, so I may just stick with two in the end.

Question though - in your description you mentioned that you have changed your setup to a fully air-cooled system with different GPUs. But I didn't see any more builds from you - would you mind briefly detailing what's changed? Thanks!

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

hey :) thanks for the kind words, your build sounds awesome and I look forward to seeing it!

I now currently have 3 980tis with the gigabyte xtreme air coolers and I switched my CPU cooler to a Noctua NH-U12DX i4. It's near silent at idle and very tolerable at load.

I think it really depends what you want out of your system. If you want absolute max performance then you'd want a custom water loop with everything overclocked. If you value reliability, at the cost of a small hit to performance, then a fully air system is best. Personally I cant afford the risk of my system being down while I deal with a potential leak. I also like the ability to be able to really quickly and easily swap out GPUs and even the CPU without much hassle.

What's best for you really just depends on your unique needs. There's a reason however that very few professional workstations use water cooling, the added performance boost simply isnt worth the risk of damage to hardware and potential system downtime. Obviously, downtime costs money if you use your computer for work.

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for your reply and information about your current setup!

I just realized that I had incorrectly assumed that the NH-U12S and the NH-U12DX i4 are the same (which is how I ended up buying the NH-U12S, as it is more readily available). I believe that the two coolers use the same heatsink, but looking more carefully, I see that the mounting system of the U12DX i4 uses four points of contact in a square pattern between the heatsink and the mounting brackets, while the U12S only uses two points between the heatsink and mounting brackets. I'm thinking the U12DX i4 would thus give better and more even mounting pressure on an LGA2011-3 CPU, especially when the motherboard is vertically oriented. I think I might change to the U12DX i4 on the workstation and use the U12S on another LGA1151 build I have.

I completely agree with you regarding air vs water cooling. The reliability and flexibility factors are very important to me, so water cooling is impractical. And not to mention there is an extra cost involved. I do not plan on water cooling this workstation build and will optimize cooling by using enough fans (2 x front 140 mm and 2 x bottom 120 mm).

I have a couple of other questions, if you wouldn't mind entertaining them?

  • Are you using two 120 mm fans on the NH-U12DX i4? If so, are they Noctuas? Have you ever noticed any resonance issue coming from the usage of a pull fan? I am using two NoiseBlocker eLoop fans instead of Noctuas (they look better through the glass), and have noticed a resonance coming off the pull fan. It seems to be only audible at high rpms though.
  • Are you running your three 980tis in slots 1, 3 and 5? How are your GPU and CPU temps at load? And are you using all four intake fans (2 x front 140 mm, 2 x bottom 120 mm) to cool them?

Thanks so much!

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

Yes you're right about the U12DX i4, it is slightly better optimised for the 2011 v3 socket but I would imagine the difference you'd see in cooling performance to be very minimal.

1) I'm using two 120 noctua fans yes. All the fans in my system are now noctua. I didn't notice any vibration problems on the CPU fans. I had some vibration issues with one of my front intake fans so I swapped out the screw mounts for the noctua rubber mounts and that fixed the problem. It doesn't look as glamorous but I don't have a side window on my case. This was partly an aesthetic choice, I wanted to keep the computer as understated as possible but it also helps to make sure I only choose parts that perform the best and are most reliable rather than look the sexiest.

I've never used noiseblocker fans so I can't really comment on them. I've found Phanteks and Scythe to be decent substitutes to notcua if you are concerned about the internal aesthetics. You could also try using rubber mounts and corner padding to the fans you already have. If you've isolated it to one particular fan you could simply remove the fan. The exhaust on the case is close enough to the CPU cooler so having 2 fans on the cooler itself is not entirely necessary. Could be worth a test and see if temps are significantly affected. 1 or 2 degrees is really not going to impact the longevity or performance of your CPU unless you're somehow already operating at max temps, which I highly doubt!

2) One thing I've found is you really do not need to fill every single possible fan slot to maximise cooling. You can sometimes get equal, if not better, cooling with fewer well-placed fans.

I have the 2x140mm intake. 1x120mm exhaust and the CPU cooler.

My GPUs are in slots 1, 4, and 7. Yes these aren't all 16x slots but it really makes no difference to performance — At least not for what I'm doing. Since the cards I'm using have really large coolers these are the slots that made the most sense to evenly space them. With a card in the bottom slot there is no room for bottom intake fans. That said, the total of 9 fans on the 3 GPUs are more than enough to cool them adequately. Plus they are all off at idle making the machine really quiet for basic tasks which I personally appreciate. Temps never rise above mid to high 70s celsius under sustained load.

Hopefully this ramble answers your questions! :D

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you for your ramble! It certainly did answer all of my questions. :)

For the NH-U12S pull fan resonance noise issue, it took a lot of searching online but I eventually found a review which mentioned this issue. Basically, Noctua designed their own fans with a special rubber bumper that removes this resonance noise issue on the pull fan. The NoiseBlockers eLoop fans I am using do have rubber anti-vibration contact points on the corners, but apparently it isn't enough. Well, after I get the NH-U12DX i4 (it needs to be special ordered and takes about 10 days) and install it, I'll see if the pull fan still has a noise issue due to vibration. It is possible that the four point mounting of the U12DX i4 might be better at keeping the heatsink stable and thus reducing vibration from the fans.

I do agree with you that there is probably only a marginal difference between the U12S and U12DX i4 in terms of cooling performance, but since I will need another cooler on a LGA1151 Z170 board, I might as well get the U12DX i4 for this workstation build.

By the way, I have had an excellent experience with NoiseBlocker eLoop fans. They are very well built, use modular cabling, are quite aesthetically pleasing, and run very quietly, even at full tilt. I picked them on the basis of these two 120mm and 140mm fan super tests. Just in case you're looking for some fans in future.

For your GPU slot setup, I do agree with you - that seems like an optimal choice for three GPUs, to allow some spacing in between them. When I tested four GPUs out (blower style Founders Edition GPUs), it was very cramped and as a result idle temps were very high. Three GPUs with the spacing you are using would allow more airflow and circulation for sure. The only issue one might have is that the slot 7 GPU may have some fit or retention issue due to the motherboard connectors at the bottom of the board, as I mentioned before. But, it does work.

Well, thanks again for sharing information about your current setup with me. It was very helpful! After I get everything sorted (I still need to fit a slot-loading slim Blu-Ray player and SSD mount at the back, and maybe make some adjustments in the main chamber), I'll send you a link to the PCPP completed build. Thanks again!

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

Look forward to seeing your build!

Thanks for the recommendation on the fans. By the way, I checked inside my build last night and I'm actually only using a single Noctua push fan on my U12DX i4. Temps are fine.

3x evenly spaced aftermarket air-cooled cards works great! I no longer buy reference cards personally although I think the latest pascal founders editions are a significant improvement on the old reference coolers.

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  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

I have tried gaming on it haha, many times! The titan Z performs just as well as a single 980ti at 1440p depending on how well optimised the game is for SLI :)

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  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Well, all I could do would be have a 780 take over the physX, which wouldn't really have an impact.

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  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks!

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