Charity PC Build #1

Donating a PC to the Learn Engineering YouTube Channel

Last Change: 14/Feb/2017, 0034hrs

Whoami: Ian Mapleson <mapesdhs@yahoo.com>
Tel: +44 (0)131 476 0796
http://www.sgidepot.co.uk/sgi.html
http://www.sgidepot.co.uk/sgidepot/

Amount Raised So Far: 258 UKP

[Build Change Log] [Items For Sale] [Credits List]

Introduction

I'm building a PC as a charitable donation for a YouTube channel I like, namely Learn Engineering (LE for short). LE's goal is to produce high quality educational videos which explain complex engineering topics in a simple manner, with the intention of fostering wider enthusiasm for engineering in general. The three guys who create these videos work for an engineering company in Pune, India (so the shipping cost alone is a relevant factor, probably around 100 UKP via courier).

Learn Engineering One can support LE directly on Patreon (I signed up; look for me at the end of their newer videos, I'm wearing an eBid T-shirt), but I decided I wanted to help much more directly. The reason for this is that I have long believed the field of engineering, along with related sciences & disciplines such as materials science, is sorely undervalued in the modern world, often pushed aside by other fields which garner greater publicity and funding, so I couldn't pass up the chance to help out. After talking at length with Sabin Mathew at LE, I concluded that even a moderate spend on a careful selection of parts (most used, some new) would produce a far better system than they have at the moment. Of course it would be great to send them something totally up to date like an X99 system or even a dual-XEON, but cost-wise that's not viable (I can't afford the latest tech for myself! :D)

The aim of this page is to appeal for help from others to assist in covering the cost of what I'm building for LE, whether that's in the form of direct monetary donations, parts I can use in the build itself, or absolutely anything at all which I can sell to help fund the parts I want to buy. I now have almost all of the parts for the build (using a motherboard based on the Intel Z68 chipset), the final item if I can get one being a secondary GPU to enhance rendering performance; even so, the more help I receive with this, the less I'll have to eat noodles. :D However, if by some chance I end up with enough donations, parts, stuff to sell, etc. to actually fund something much better instead (like an X79 build), then I'll certainly do that, but at the moment I'd rather be realistic. I have considerable experience building PCs from used hardware (I do lots of benchmarking), offering as it can a way to gain access to good performance for a greatly reduced budget target, the key being to exploit the previous generation of high-end tech which used to be very expensive. Naturally though for this build I will make no profit at all.

I originally wanted to send the system to LE during Sept., but alas family events meant this was impossible, so at present it's more likely I'll be posting the system towards the end of November (the best laid plans... family events have pushed this into Dec now). Many of the parts I had already bought, intending to use them for systems I was going to sell, but I'm using them for this donated build instead; this includes the motherboard, CPU, case, disks, one of the SSDs, fans and PSU. Other parts I've bought in more recent weeks. Note that I don't have any specific target as such as to how much to raise, since I'm going to send them the system anyway, but clearly the more I can raise the easier it will be on my own pockets. If I should end up with a surplus, I'll use whatever's left over either to increase the spec, or for some future charity build instead (I'm sure I'll help other channels aswell). Perhaps I could grow this idea over time into a regular thing, who knows.

LE's current system is a generic HP box with an i3 CPU, 4GB 1600MHz RAM, NVIDIA GT 610 2GB and 500GB mechanical C-drive. They use Blender, GIMP and Camtasia to produce the engineering videos. Aside from the low-end CPU, low RAM and lack of an SSD (essential for a modern, responsive PC these days), the GPU is particularly weak. For those familiar with Blender, the GT 610 takes almost 31 minutes to compute the Blender BMW test, while rendering the test scene on their i3 CPU takes more than 9 minutes (their system scores 347 for the Cinebench R15 CPU render test). Or to put it another way, the GT 610 is the second slowest GPU listed on the Octane Render benchmark page. :|

My goal is to send them something with at least double the CPU rendering performance, but more importantly a system with far greater GPU speed, especially for GPU accelerated rendering in Blender, achieved by installing more than one GPU (I'm not sure yet, but it may end up being as much as two orders of magnitude faster). The system will also have a lot more RAM, SSDs, Enterprise SATA storage, provision for easy system backup and some other extras I'll mention later.


Parts Donations To Use Or Sell

See below for the build I'm planning to do, but I welcome anything that can be used instead that's better, or likewise any item at all which I can sell to help fund this build (does not have to be computer related). So far one person has supplied some SGI RAM (some of which I've already sold on forums.nekochan.net), another has sent me some old PC gfx cards to sell, and of course I'm going to wade through my own stuff to see what I can sell off (I have at least two dozen items to add to the for-sale list below, which I will do next week). Please contact me by email or phone if you can help (details above, or my full contact info page is here). I suspect this is probably the easiest way most people may be able to assist with this build.


Direct Donations

You can use PayPal (use the Family/Friends Option if possible, funded by a normal positive balance; my PayPal ID is mapesdhs@yahoo.com), bank transfer, cheque, etc. Please contact me by email or phone for details.


The Build

Here is a summary of the parts I'm using for the PC as planned at the moment, along with whether I already have them or have yet to obtain them, whether they're used or new, and how much they cost me. If not purchased yet, the cost in italics is the max I aim to spend trying to obtain the item in question (obviously I could aim for something higher, but I need to have realistic goals). After the table I'll explain each item in detail. Note that since my last update in September, I have changed which GPU I am trying to obtain, for reasons explained below (the cost is a little more, but worthwhile I believe).

Item                                            Obtained?    New/Used      Cost (UKP)

Antec 302 Case                                     Yes         Used            45
Akasa Soundproofing material for side panels       Yes          New            15
Thermaltake Toughpower 1000W Modular PSU           Yes         Used            55
Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD5-B3 Motherboard                Yes         Used            75
i7 2700K CPU (target speed of 4.8GHz)              Yes         Used           125
Corsair H80 CPU Water Cooler + 2x Noctua NF-P12    Yes         Used            38
GSkill 2x8GB DDR3/2133MHz CL11 TridentX RAM        Yes         Used            75
Palit GTX 980 4GB Reference, main display          Yes         Used           215
EVGA GTX 980 4GB Reference, extra CUDA             Yes         Used           216
Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD (C-drive)                Yes         Used            53
Micron C400 256GB (backup of C-drive)              Yes         Used            46
OCZ Vertex4 128GB SSD (Paging/Scratch)             Yes         Used            25
2x Seagate Enterprise ES.3 2TB SATA                Yes          New           120
Seagate Enterprise ES.3 1TB SATA                   Yes         Used            29
Upper case intake fan (NDS 140mm PWM)              Yes          New            10
5x Front/side/etc. fans (Corsair)                  Yes          New            25
Startech 3.5"/5.25" front bay adapter              Yes          New             4
Startech 2-drive 2.5" HotSwap Mobile Rack          Yes          New            30
DVDRW drive                                        Yes          New            15
VideoMate C500 PCI SD DV/Analogue Capture Card     Yes          New            18
2-port ASMedia SATA3 PCIe x1 Card                  Yes          New             7
Shipping cost estimate via DHL to India             -            -            100
                                                                           ----------
                                                                             1341 UKP


NB: If I was building all this using the latest Z170 technology from all-new parts, the cost would be well over 2000 UKP, though that would pose a problem for the SD capture card since modern motherboards don't have normal PCI slots. As it is, the above system should be very potent, and a huge improvement over their existing PC. To give you some idea, at 5GHz an i7 2700K has the same muiltithreaded performance as a stock-speed Skylake i7 6700K (scores 880 for Cinebench R15; see my benchmark page for comparisons, and note the page should be viewed with Page Style set to None from the View menu in your browser, or check this HTML version instead).


PC Case

PC Case Box Antec 302 Case

I'm very familiar with Antec 300/302 cases, I've used them in numerous builds. The 302 has an extra side panel grill behind the motherboard so one can fit a fan specifically for cooling the underside of the motherboard. Since the PC will be used in a warm environment, the added cooling will help. Despite liking the 302 case though, I've never liked Antec's fans, so I replace them with better models, usually Nanoxia Deep Silence (NDS) or Corsair fans (both are low-noise; NDS are almost as good as Nanoxia but are 50% cheaper). The upper intake fan inparticular is replaced with an NDS 140mm PWM (works better, but less noise). Note the 2nd picture above was taken before I cleaned the case.


Soundproofing

Noise in a working environment is always annoying. I always fit Akasa noise reduction foam to help minimise noise output from PCs I build (not taken a picture of the box yet, will do that later).


PSU

Thermaltake Toughpower 1kW PSU PSU Sockets

For many years now I've been using 2nd-hand Thermaltake Toughpower PSUs for PC builds, they have been utterly reliable. As with all the used parts in this build, I completely clean the PSU before installation, and often replace the fan aswell. Note that as mentioned originally, I have indeed decided to use a 1kW PSU afterall, mainly because the 850W model didn't have the right connectors to supply two GPUs, even though the total max power draw should be well within the capacity of an 850W, Sometimes required connectors and cabling are more important. Also, the extra connectors mean the system could be expanded in the future with an extra single-slot GPU of some kind (2-slot card not viable as it would conflict with the USB3 socket, unless the card is very short).


Motherboard

Gigabyte Motherboard

Normally for PC builds using the i7 2700K CPU I would use the ASUS Maximus IV Extreme (M4E), but I wanted a board that also had at least one normal PCI slot so I could fit an SD video capture card. I do have a Gigabyte UD4, but I wanted more than two PCIe slots so that I could if desired fit a PCIe SAS card (in the event that SAS storage was cheaper to obtain, but I got lucky with the Enterprise SATA drives), or even a 3rd GPU. Thus I'm using a Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD5-B3 which is a reasonable compromise. It does have fewer SATA ports than the M4E (hence the PCIe x1 SATA3 card to provide extra ports) but it should be ok.

The picture shows the board with the CPU already fitted, but just the stock Intel cooler. When finished, the stock cooler with be replaced with something far better (see below).


CPU

Box for the i7 2700K CPU

I am very familiar with the i7 2700K SandyBridge (SB), I have built many systems with this CPU before, most recently a gaming PC for a friend, which employed an Antec 302, ASUS M4E (2700K set to 5GHz), 980 Ti, 2x Samsung 850 Pro 512GB, Corsair H80, 875W PSU, etc. I'm not sure how a 2700K will fair on the Gigabyte UD5, but I expect it should still be able to reach at least 4.8GHz ok (every 2700K I've tested has run fine at 5GHz, but I've only done this before using M4Es which can handle it with ease; the M4E was the high-end board of its time).

The nice thing about the i7 2700K (and all SandyBridge-based CPUs) is they are very easy to overclock, allowing one to reach very high clock rates with only reasonable air cooling (an old TRUE cooler and one fan works fine at 5GHz), and without excessive heat, but I'm using an all-in-one water cooler for this build for even better performance, less noise, and superior build strength (the latter is important for preventing damage in transit, ie. an air cooler can wobble about too much which risks damaging the motherboard, but a water cooler is held firmly in place). Newer CPUs are faster than the 2700K of course, but are much harder to overclock, and generate a lot more heat. Sure, it would be nice to use newer parts instead, but that would be far more expensive (the Skylake i7 6700K alone costs almost 300 UKP).


Corsair H80 Water Cooler and Noctua NF-P12 Fans

Corsair H80 Cooler with one fan 2nd Noctua fan

I always use water coolers for my builds if I can, they are so much more effective than large air coolers, and make it much easier to manage the space inside a case. I was lucky to win a used H80 for a good price, which came with one Noctua NF-P12 120mm fan.

I bought another NF-P12 later for 10 UKP (the fans Corsair provides for these coolers are a bit too loud, so normally I replace them with NDS PWM, but in this case the NF-P12s were well priced). The 2nd picture above shows the other fan being tested on the day it arrived.

Most importantly, as mentioned already, using a water cooler ensures safe transport.


Memory

GSkill 16GB 2133MHz RAM kit Corsair 32GB 2400MHz RAM kit

I already have the GSKill 16GB kit mentioned above (first picture), but I'm considering using a 32GB Corsair 2400MHz kit instead which would cost 122. I know GSkill works well with overclocked systems, but for the moderate +48 extra cost it may be worth it to use Corsair instead in order to max out the RAM (though this might affect the max possible CPU overclock). I've not fully decided on this yet. I have obtained the same Corsair kit for an X79 system I'm building (2nd picture), so if I can I will try some experiments after the 2700K overclock is sorted out on the UD5 to see if the Corsair kit behaves just as well. If it does then I'll use the Corsair kit.


Primary GPU (GTX 980 Reference)

I could fit two GTX 580s, but the intention for the primary GPU is to have a card that has good standard 3D/viewport speed. The GTX 580 is great for CUDA (due to various complex reasons I won't go into here), but newer cards are much faster for normal non- CUDA 3D tasks, which of course includes games, but certainly working with 3D models in Blender aswell. Originally I listed a GTX 970 as being the card I wanted to obtain, and indeed a GTX 970 is about 2X faster than a 580 for normal 3D, so a 970 was a sensible minimum target. However, further price drops in typical used GTX 980s meant I decided to try and obtain a GTX 980 instead (it's not much more, and the extra performance is fairly significant). Also, I don't know if the 970's split memory design would hinder the way in which Blender works if the available 4GB RAM was being almost entirely used, but I figure it's best to be certain (I know the design has virtually no effect on gaming, but pro tasks often behave differently).

I'm pleased to report that I have indeed obtained a GTX 980 and will be testing it shortly, pictures coming soon. I was also successful in obtaining a second GTX 980 for the extra CUDA card, for almost the same cost as the primary 980 (details below).

Note that reference cards are preferred here because such cards vent most of their waste heat directly out the back of the case, so the air inside the case going through the CPU cooler is unaffected. Non-reference 980s with aftermarket coolers are certainly faster (eg. the EVGA in my gaming PC runs at 1266MHz, vs. the typical 1127MHz of a reference edition), but they dump too much of their waste heat (in some cases all of it) inside the case, which would affect the CPU cooling. Managing temperatures and cooling in this build is very important, because the office environment in India where it will be used can get quite warm.

Of course it would be great to fit something even more powerful like a GTX 1080 or somesuch instead, but one must be realistic. However, at least my original speculation about 2nd-hand price drops making 980s affordable turned out to be correct, though it's possible the supply is starting to dry up now; I noticed that people seemed if anything to be bidding slightly more for reference cooler 980s compared to a few weeks ago, so lack of supply may be forcing up perceived value even if newer products ought to be making used 980s cheaper (the 2nd hand market is still subject to the vagueries of supply & demand). Update: not long after writing this text, someone won a reference 980 auction on eBay for the crazy sum of 275 UKP, which is almost as much as people had been bidding on the lower side for 980 Ti cards. Weird.

Note I am using NVIDIA cards because the drivers are far more reliable, and the CUDA acceleration in Blender is more complete and faster than OpenCL. The power consumption is also better.


Secondary CUDA GPU (EVGA GTX 980 4GB Reference)

I am delighted to report I was able to win a second GTX 980 auction, namely item 182372137418, for 216 UKP, an almost identical cost to the primary GPU (pictures coming when I receive the card). This does increase the cost somewhat, but it means much better CUDA rendering performance overall.

Rendering performance in Blender is very important for the work LE does. I originally began this project with two GTX 580s in mind, because they're so strong for CUDA but are reasonably cheap, but over time I decided that something more power efficient and cooler would be better given the warm environment where the PC will be used. And at least having two 980s means all aspects of processing will have the same higher 4GB VRAM limit (the 580s I'd originally planned on using only have 3GB). Just for reference though, my own CUDA research machine (which is faster than two Titan Blacks) has four GTX 580 3GB cards. A 580 is faster than all the 600 series cards for CUDA, and the only 700 series cards which beat it are the 780 Ti and Titan. By comparison, a good GTX 980 is about 10% slower than two 580s combined, the latter being quicker than a Titan. However, depsite the low cost of 580s and potent performance, they're best used where heat issues are less of a concern, and the 580 does use quite a lot of power. Thus, I'm glad I will be able to fit two 980s, despite the higher cost.

Two 980s will provide a huge speed increase for Blender rendering over LE's existing system. The relative performance of different GPU combinations can be compared using the OctaneBench CUDA benchmark.


C-Drive SSD

Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD (C-drive), Top Side Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD (C-drive), Main Label

I won a used 840 Pro 256GB for a decent price. Of course it would be great to use a 500GB/512GB model, but that would cost much more, and make the backup SSD more expensive too.


Backup C-Drive SSD

Micron C400 256GB SSD (C-drive backup)

Reliable system/data backup is very important for any PC user. In this case the idea is to allow the LE guys to do a full C-drive clone backup to a 2nd SSD without having to power cycle the PC, via the use of a 2-bay trayless hotswap unit. The backup SSD is a Micron C400 256GB.


Windows Paging and Scratch Area SSD

(forgot to take a picture of this, will do so later)

Windows always uses virtual memory in the form of a large paging file. Normally this uses up a lot of space on the C-drive, especially in systems with large RAM. Thus, I like to fit a separate SSD to hold the paging file, the partition for which should be 1.5X the main RAM capacity (ie. 24GB for a system with 16GB RAM, or 48GB for a system with 32GB RAM). This frees up the space on the C-drive and reduces the wear on the C-drive aswell. An OCZ Vertex4 128GB is ideal for this, given its high IOPS rating.

The unused space on the paging file SSD can then be used as a general scratch/temporary working area for everyday use, eg. a destination for reliable video capture, output from a render or video conversion, etc.


Enterprise SATA Storage

2x Seagate Enterprise ES.3 2TB SATA Seagate Enterprise ES.3 1TB SATA

Consumer mechanical drives (or rust spinners as I call them) are cheap, but this is for good reason, ie. lower reliability. Thus, I constantly try to obtain unused or barely used Enterprise SATA drives, which are fast but also a lot more reliable, and in many cases often still have valid end user warranties. The Seagate ES.3 series is perfect for this role, and I was able to obtain a couple of new drives for very good prices.

The 1TB drive is for general data backup, eg. normal snapshot file images of the C-Drive, important user files, etc.


Upper Case Intake Fan (NDS 140mm PWM)

Nanoxia Deep Silence 140mm PWM

The default Antec intake fan is not very good, so I replace it with something better. The NDS 140mm PWM costs half that of a Noctua but works almost as well, ie. good performance and low noise.


5x Front/Side/etc. Fans (Corsair/NDS)

Corsair fans (low noise versions) Nanoxia Deep Silence 120mm PWM

Some of these fans have come from Corsair H80/H100 water cooling kits where I fitted NDS fans instead, so they're basically spare. Some models of Corsair fan can be rather loud, but I have several which are much better. Properly configured so that fans only spin up when temperature conditions demand it, the system should operate with optimal noise levels. The fan on the far side of the case is an NDS 120mm, while the two front fans and main side panel fan are all Corsair.


Startech 3.5"/5.25" Front Bay Adapter

Startech Front Bay Adapter

This is used to hold the next item within a 5.25" drive bay.


Startech 2-drive 2.5" HotSwap Mobile Rack

Startech HotSwap Mobile Rack

This fits into a single 5.25" front bay and provides two hot-swap 2.5" trayless bays, ideal for C-drive backup or other temporary SATA device access.


DVDRW Drive

LiteOn DVDRW

I would fit a BDRW (bluray burner) but I don't think they need it and the cost is much higher. However, this might change later if I can find a decent used BDRW unit.


VideoMate C500 PCI SD DV/Analogue Capture Card

VideoMate C500

This allows one to capture digital and analogue SD Video. I figure the LE guys might in the future wish to mix their inhouse CGI material with video footage from recordings, so this is an ideal solution which has a decent reputation. Ideally I would fit an HD version of such a card, but HD capture cards cost significantly more, and seem to have a rather poor reputation for reliability.


2-port ASMedia SATA3 PCIe x1 Card

ASMedia 2-port SATA PCIe card

The Gigabyte UD5 motherboard does not have enough SATA ports for all the devices I want to fit, so this card will provide the connections for the 1TB SATA and the upper bay in the Startech 2-bay hotswap unit.


Misc Internal Cables

PWM Fan Splitter Cablesd PWM Fan Extension Cables Auxiliary Motherboard Power Extension Cabled

PWM fan splitter and extension cables are needed in order to connect various fans to the motherboard, while maintaining a tidy layout. An Auxiliary Motherboard power extension cable is used for similar reasons.


Pictures

See above! I'll add pics of the primary GPU and SSDs later when I obtain them.

Comments, questions, suggestions, and of course donations/parts, all most welcome! 8)

Ian.

PS. for those who may not know, I am based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

------------------- SGI Guru mapesdhs@yahoo.com +44 (0)131 476 0796

Build Change Log

14/Feb/2016:

Apologies for the absence of updates, alas family matters took up much of my time after the xmas break, and such matters are still ongoing. However, at the moment I'm still in discussions with Gigabyte, hoping they will supply a custom BIOS to support the C500 PCI card, so things are a tad on hold anyway.

Gigabyte asked if I could test a different Z68 board and indeed I did so, using an Asrock Z68 Extreme7 (it has one PCI slot), on which the C500 card worked perfectly ok. Hence, I know there is no general incompatibility between the C500 and Z68 chipsets, something Gigabyte initially suggested might be an issue. Instead, it is far more likely to be a BIOS support issue specific to the Gigabyte board, as described by the user absic on the Gigabyte Forum.

Thus, it boils down to whether Gigabyte are willing to supply a custom BIOS to support the C500 card. If they do, then great, the system would then basically be ready, I just need to finalise the overclock, the OS setup (software for the C500, disk config, backup), etc. If however Gigabyte say they can't supply a custom BIOS, then I'll have to use the Asrock board instead; I'm not sure atm what this would mean for the spec I've so far been going with, since the Asrock board has a very different PCIe slot layout, ie. it may not be able to utillise two GPUs without blocking the PCI slot. It would certainly mean a further delay re having to swap out the parts, and of course redoing the driver setup. Anyway, I'll see what happens. Hopefully I'll hear back from Gigabyte by the end of this week.

Meanwhile, I sold a couple of items from the for-sale list! Yay! My thanks to Mr. Andrew Heath. 8)


12/Dec/2016:

Run into a bit of a hitch with the build atm. If I try to fit the C500 PCI capture card into either of the PCI slots, when the power button is pressed there is a brief moment of activity before the system immediately shuts off again. No idea why, still looking into it. I've checked the C500 PCI card with a different system (old P55 setup) and it works ok, so it's not the C500 itself. Maybe something in the BIOS, or a mbd short somewhere. Feel free to email me if you've any thoughts!

Apart from the above though, the rest of the hardware is in place, including the PCIe SATA3 card. Not yet sorted out the CPU overclock, but the system is running ok. Need to read up on the Gigabyte BIOS setup, I'm too used to doing this with ASUS boards, though I should be able to more or less copy the settings I use for ASUS M4E boards with a 2700K.


06/Dec/2016:

I am in the process of installing Win7/Pro/64bit at the moment. The front and side fans are installed. Next up is fitting the sound insulation to the side panels.


03/Dec/2016:

I won a second GTX 980 Reference card! See ebay item 182372137418.


04/Nov/2016:

Happy to report I've obtained a GTX 980 with Reference cooler. 8) See eBay item 282221326067.


11/Oct/2016:

Alas some critical family events prevented me from working on this build during most of September and continues to be an issue at the moment into October (as I type this, I'm away helping an elderly relative with care issues). However, I should be able to get stuck into it again during the second half of October.

On the positive side, the delay has meant that in the meantime the typical selling prices of used GTX 980s has come down further, so I've decided to aim for a 980 as the primary GPU instead of a 970 (it does mean the overall cost is a bit higher, but the extra performance is worth it). In a similar manner, although I'll proceed on the assumption that the seondary GPU will be a GTX 580, if I can sort out a used 780 Ti instead (or a 2nd 980) then I will (ie. selling two 580s should cover the cost). The latter is 2X faster than a 580, and uses less power, so it's a worthy change if I can do it. The 580 is still a very good card for CUDA (two of them beat a Titan) and in some cases are a better choice for certain tasks than the non-Titan 700s because the 580 is strong for 64bit CUDA (eg. pro audio processing exploits FP64). However, this isn't certain yet, but there is time. I've listed the 580s for-sale below, and I'll post adverts for them next week.


15/Sep/2016:

I'm getting close to bagging the primary GPU! A Palit Jetstream 970 sold for 132 on eBay today, which is the cheapest 970 I've seen so far; I didn't bid btw because it's not a model which has an external exhaust cooler. As more people upgrade to newer cards, the supply of 970s is rising rapidly, so I'm sure it won't be long before I can win a 970 with a reference cooler for a sensible sum (strangely, people seem to bid more for models with reference coolers, no idea why given they normally have lower core clocks).

Meanwhile, having originally obtained a Micron C400 256GB SSD for the backup of the C- drive, I unexpectedly managed to win a second 840 Pro 256GB for an even lower price than the first, so to heck with the Micron, the backup unit will also be an 840 Pro! It's obviously best to use identical models if possible, so I'm pleased with this. The extra 840 Pro did cost 5 more than the Micron, but it's worth it.


05/Sep/2016:

I was away for most of August, now off for a short 4-day break, back again as normal on Sep. 12th. In the meantime though I was able to secure the SSDs for the C-drive and backup drive, pictures of which I've added above.


30/Jul/2016:

Minor update: I'm away at the moment dealing with a family matter. In the meantime, I've added the pictures above.


20/Jul/2016:

I have put most of the system together, using one of my own GTX 980s as a temporary GPU, and a temporary 120GB SSD just for testing (the trays to hold the SSDs are not yet fitted, I won't do that until the final SSDs have been obtained).

Initial Costruction, Phase 1

Because the GTX 580 does need one 8pin power connector, I decided the 850W PSU I was originally going to use was not suitable. One could use molex splitter adapters to feed a PCIe power link, but I'd rather not do that. Better to have proper PCIe power feeds if possible. The 1kW version of the Toughpower has enough PCIe ports to supply at least three GPUs that each need two power inputs, so there is also scope for future expansion.

The GTX 580 itself though is not yet fitted. This is best left until after the initial OS install is finished (of course later I switched the plan to 980s, but despite this I decided to stick with the better PSU).

I've not yet fitted the PCIe x1 SATA3 card either. I'll do this once all the main Windows drivers and updates have been installed.

The front fans are not attached atm, this comes next.



Items For Sale

Here are the items I have available for sale, all proceeds go to funding this project (I have lots more items to add, will do this next week):


RamSan 440: The peak of storage tech in 2008, and costing $275000 when new, this unit employs 512GB of DDR2 DRAM to provide 4.5GB/sec sustained I/O and 600,000 IOPS, with an access latency of less than 15 micro seconds (much quicker than an SSD). It also includes 512GB of RAID-protected Flash to provide continuous backup (it's actually over 680GB, but about a third is used for supreme over-provisioning). The unit can be connected via up to eight 4Gbit FibreChannel ports (or four Infiniband ports), and includes fully redundant N+1 PSUs/fans. Ideal for critical 24/7 data, databases, low latency transaction data, metadata, etc. Still very potent! Peak power usage is 650W, 4U size for 19" rackmount, max weight 90lbs. Looks like this. Here's a detailed PDF, plus a 2008 article from The Register, and an article from Reactive Data. My thanks to Rob Bone at XSNet for donating this item to help with the build.


Credits List

Here's a summary of all those who've helped in this venture, itemising where the raised funds have come from, though in some cases a buyer/donator may wish to remain anonymous or keep the details of what they bought/donated private.

KEY: NYS = Not Yet Sold


DONATION CREDITS:
                                                                                         Amount
Name (with permission)      Nekochan ID (if any)      Donation                        Raised (UKP)

Rob Bone at XSNet (USA)     -                         RamSan 440 Storage Unit             NYS
Jeb Mayers                  jebmayers                 Some older PC GPUs                  NYS
Michael Pagel               thegoldbug                Direct.                              50
Jonathan Mortimer           -                         Direct.                              25


ITEMS SOLD CREDITS (waiting for each buyer to tell me if they'd like to be credited):
                                                                                         Amount
Name (with permission)      Nekochan ID (if any)      Item(s) Sold                    Raised (UKP)

Andrew Heath                -                         James May's Toy Stories DVD           5
Andrew Heath                -                         Hitch Hikers 5-book box set          10
Mark Davies                 uunix                     128MB RAM kit for SGI Indy           25
Dirk Twisk                  twix                      3x 64MB RAM kit for SGI Indigo       21
Raphael Vallotton           BetXen                    128MB RAM kit for SGI Indy           25
Raphael Vallotton           BetXen                    Colour-faded IndyCam                  5
Alexander Tafarte           xiri                      128MB RAM kit for SGI Indy           20
Alexander Tafarte           xiri                      128MB RAM kit for SGI Indy           17
Frank Everdij               dexter1                   128MB RAM kit for SGI Indy           15
Frank Everdij               dexter1                   64MB RAM kit for SGI Indy             5
Alexander Tafarte           xiri                      64MB RAM kit for SGI Indy             5
Christian Neubert           FlasBurn                  2x 1GB RAM kit for SGI Fuel          30