Rosewill Thor CaseBelieve it or not, it’s time for Yet Another Computer Refresh and associated post.  These are really nice for me to be able to reference, so I post it for all to see and to judge. I expect to field “Why aren’t you using Intel/Nvidia, you n00b?!?” questions starting anytime now.  since these things tend to be long, I’m going to put the entire post after the fold.  There will be pictures, both ones that I took (dusty computer innards!) and press shots of components I’ve stuffed in here.

To skip the 2.0 history and jump right into this week’s build, click here.

wp-image-1562269828jpg.jpgDestroyer 2.0

Although I don’t think I ever mentioned it, I did make a Destroyer 2.0.  This was a couple years ago, but without going back through purchase history, I can’t tell you when, so I won’t bother trying.  This is the computer as it stood right after I took off the dusty-fan side.

For that refresh, I ditched the FX-8150 for the slightly-faster FX-8350 and  replaced the 2 video cards in my Destroyer build with the One Card To Rule Them All – the best video card of all time and the only decent gaming card to support SIX outputs at the same time, the mighty Radeon 7870.  It was, and still is, amazing. I also changed the Program & Documents drive from the 1TB to a RAID0 set of matched 4TB 7200 Black drives, and bumped up the SD from 128 to 512GB. The combination made for a notably-faster 2.0 than the original, even though none of the upgrades were massive.  In addition, I added a 5.25″ converter tray with the intention of getting a SATA replicator in the future and added a 4TB media drive because I wanted to move all my “Project” photos & (especially) video to their own drive. This is what it all looked like when I pulled the dusty side off to reveal the system.Oh, there are also a pair of 320GB 7200s in there in RAID1 that I literally never used.  Those are gone in 3.0.

Destroyer 3.0

wp-image-354342429jpg.jpgThis is my chassis, the Rosewill Thor, after more than 4 years of constant use.  I’ve dusted and cleaned it a couple times over the years, but not often, and you can really see the buildup where the fan sucks in air to cool the case. Gross. But that’s probably a decent part of why my system was overheating under load, so I’m glad I decided to do another mid-model refresh.RX480

Okay, so… for Destroyer 3.0 there were another handful of incremental upgrades and one “first” for me in computer design.  The most important one, by far, was the implementation of the Radeon RX480 – a new, lower-cost video card that bumps up against the best in the market (in some things) and outpaces my amazing 7870 in everything, most notably editing performance.  wp-image-407664994jpg.jpgThe tradeoff here is that it “only” supports 4 monitors and I “only” bought one card (so far), so I’m not running all of my possible monitors yet.  The model I bought has 8GB RAM, though, so that’s kind of amazing.  The impetus behind this purchase was simple – render times.  I was rendering some video (that I’ll post about soon!) and the render times were pushing eight hours by the end of the run, and that’s no good for a short, but admittedly complex, project.

corsair_coolerI also invested in an inexpensive(ish) watercooling block (a Corsair Hydro Series H105) for my older processor, owing to the fact that unless the ambient temperature around the computer was below about 85°F, it was likely to restart itself.  That was hell on renders and exports during the day, and definitely took a couple days to figure out the pattern.  I figure the cost of this thing will pay for itself in A/C savings by the end of this summer, honestly.  It’s high time I did it anyway.

Seagate_8tbThe only other big add was I bought an 8TB Seagate Archival drive on which to store my photo & video projects.  My intention is to have it act as storage only for files as I load them in premiere, with cache on one SSD, and project files and program files on my main RAID0 D: drive.  That should work a damn sight better than what I was doing before, even if it’s not how the Rich Kids of Instagram do their setups.

Here right below is how the table looked yesterday – ignore the wine boxes in the background – they’re all waiting to be cataloged.  You can see the water cooling block, which didn’t fit perfectly in my system because the motherboard was too close to the top where I had to put it because the tubes were too short to reach the front of the case.  You can also see that I pulled those redundant and unused 320s out of there and permanently mounted the 8TB into the bottom, which is nice because now I can use the hot-swap for what I’d originally intended it, which is nice.  You can also see the PCI-e 8x SATA card in place awaiting drivers, all hooked up to the 1-into-6 chassis I’ve got there, and the other, PCI 4x SATA card that powers the 2 ROM drives, the front SATA port and… umm… I forget, actually.

Closeup of the water cooling block – surprisingly low-profile.  It lights up when powered!  Let’s hope it never decides to leak. What are the odds?  It also pushes the mobo power cable very close to that 4th, currently-empty RAM slot, but I can squeeze something in there for v3.1 when I put it together in a little while.

When I tried to pull the heatsink, the whole chip popped out with it. I was nervous for a second that I’d bent the pins or somehow FUBAR’d the ZIF slot, but nope – perfect pins, perfect fit.  The thermal paste was a little bit of a mess, though, and caked right on there.  I rubbed it off with alcohol.  I intend to reuse the cooler in a 2U build i’m doing right now in the basement for projects unknown, so that’s cool.

Aww – look at my adorable processor.  Nice and clean!

My 8x PCI-e card.  Because of the length of the near-reference video card cooler from Powercolor, I could actually use the 2nd PCE-e slot, which was awesome because it’ll mean no problems installing a second RX480 when they become available. Double the cards, double the fun!

So that leaves a couple things: #1, what’s left to buy (I’ll call that 3.1 because it’s already decided on, but the purchase has to wait for me to get some more $$ and that RX480 to get back in stock) and #2, what’s left from older iterations of Destroyer.  So…

What’s Left to Buy

  • 1x 8gb RX480
  • 16gb DDR3-1600 RAM in 2 8gb sticks

CrosshairVRosewill_ThorWhat’s Left From Before

  • THOR Full-Tower Case
  • ASUS Crosshair V Formula
    (to me, this is the heart of the computer, everything else can be upgraded piecemeal and it’s still the same computer, but new mobo means change)
  • AMD FX-8350 “Vishera”
    FX-8150(8 Discrete cores. 4GHz native.)
  • 512gb SSD
    (I forget whose it is, but it’s been fast and faithful for a couple years now)Corsair Vengeance RAM
  • Corsair Vengeance RAM + 8gb Additional RAM, all at DDR3-1600
  • Blu-Ray burner & DVD burner
  • Rosewill card reader
  • RaidMax 850SS 850-watt Modular Power Supply
  • Razer BlackWidowRazer BlackWidow Keyboard
  • Razer Deathadder Chroma Mouse
  • Razer Orbweaver Keypad
  • A partridge in a pear tree

So that’s all, folks.  I’d be happy to hear your thoughts, if you have them, and in the meanwhile, stay frosty.