This post documents my recent desktop PC build featuring a 32 core threadripper processor and two 2080 Ti graphics cards. It is specced to allow for another upgrade to four 2080 Ti graphics cards with a full custom water loop. I plan to use it mostly for machine learning and simulating reinforcement learning environments. As an added bonus, it can also run Crysis at 20FPS.
This is what it looks like (Apologies for poor lighting. Clearly I need to install additional RGB.):
- CPU: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX ($1,679.41, Amazon)
- Graphics Card #1: GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 2080 Ti GAMING OC ($1,199.99, Newegg)
- Graphics Card #2: GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 2080 Ti GAMING OC ($1,199.99, Amazon)
- Mother Board: ASRock X399 Taichi ($269.99, Newegg)
- Case: Cooler Master C700M ($469.99, Amazon)
- Memory: 4 x 16GB Crucial ECC DDR4 2666 CT16G4WFD8266 ($491.96, Newegg)
- PSU: EVGA Supernova 1600 T2 80+ Titanium ($449.07, Amazon)
- Disk: 1TB NVMe Samsung 970 EVO Plus ($247.82, Amazon)
- CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U12S TR4-SP3 ($69.90, Amazon)
Thermal Paste: Cooler Master HTK-002-U1 ($5.99, Amazon)
Total cost after 8.5% tax: $6601.25
I could probably have gotten the cost down a bit without compromising performance by going for a less overpriced case, non-ecc memory and a cheaper PSU but I liked the case and wanted to minimize the chance of the PSU or memory causing any issues.
All the parts in original packaging.
X399 Taichi motherboard.
T-20 torx drill bit I used to (un)screw CPU socket. I later discovered that my CPU already ships with a better, torque limited screwdriver. (D’oh counter: 1)
CPU socket unlocked.
External cap removed.
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX. It comes in fancy packaging to distract you from the fact that you just spent 1700$ on something that looks just like any other CPU.
3GHz – 4.2GHz, 32 physical cores.
Sliding in the CPU into its carrier frame.
Attached to socket.
Held in place.
“Cheap” NH-U12S TR4-SP3 cooler that will prevent my CPU from turning into an expensive paper weight until I have time to install a full custom water loop. I didn’t end up using the thermal paste because the cooler came with it’s own. (D’oh counter: 2)
This is what it looks like.
Cooler comes with detailed instructions. If I had actually read them, I would have known to remove the clip-on fan before installing the cooler which would have made some of the screws much easier to reach.
The thermal paste I used, included with the cooler.
This is how you apply thermal paste, right?
Placing the cooler on the CPU socket.
Handy spanner with weird head that allows it to be used at an angle.
Screwing in hard to reach screws at an angle.
Locating header for primary CPU fan.
This is when I realized you can just remove the fan super easily.
64GB of Crucial CT16G4WFD8266 error correcting memory. Still leaves space for another 64GB.
RAM sticks #1 and #2.
RAM #3 and #4.
1TB 970 EVOPlus NVME disk.
Is installed into M.2 slot (4x PCIE 3.0 lanes) because SATA would be much to slow.
Inserting into M.2 slot.
Screw comes with motherboard.
This is when I found the hidden compartment in my CPU package that has the manual, screw driver and other goodies.
1600W EVGA Supernova T2 Titanium 80+ modular power supply unit.
Power for motherboard and CPU.
Second power connector for CPU because just one can’t handle it.
Felt cute, might burn down your house later, idk.
The moment of truth 😮
No smoke so we’ve got that going for ourselves.
Pressing the power switch. Anxiety intensifies.
Humming fans, flashing blinkenlights, LED display cycling quickly through error codes and then turning off. Looking good!
GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Gaming OC 11GB. Vendors are currently only allowing 1 GPU per customer, so I got one from Newegg and a second with my Amazon order.
Future plans include replacing the stock cooler with a water block so that I can fit a total of 4 GPUs.
Attaching the GPU. Of course before, I switched off the PSU. And disconnected it from the power outlet. And then waited a few minutes. 1600W power supplies scare me.
GPU power connectors.
We can connect a monitor this time.
Powering on again.
WE HAVE TAKEOFF!
Next up: Do all of this again, but inside the case.
Because the PSU is very long, we need to (temporarily) detach some parts of the case to make enough space to slide it in.
Backplate on the left needs to go.
The bag that contained the M.2 screw comes in handy.
Now detaching the stuff on the bottom.
Now there’s space!
Getting the PSU screwed on was a major PITA and took ages because the holes on the case didn’t quite line up.
I finally managed after turning the case on it’s side and temporarily loosening the screws on the PSU tray.
Removing expansion slots brackets to make space for the GPU.
Placing the motherboard inside the case. Now where are those screws?
Found them! 10 different kinds, all inside the same bag. Apparently when you sell a 500$ case, individually packaged and labeled bags for screws are not in the budget.
The one we want is #2.
Can you spot it? Me neither…
I finally had the great idea of sorting all the screws by type and then identifying them by the count. If not for that, I would have been screwed. (No pun intended.)
Motherboard attached to case.
Screwing the GPU onto the case.
Now let’s put in the IO shield.
Hmm, no way to get it into place. Luckily, I can just remove the case fan and the slide it in from the side!
No I can’t.
After contemplating the unthinkable for but a second, I quickly return to my senses and remember that my life would have no meaning without this crucial piece of decor in a place that I look at once every 2 months.
You may think that this is a poorly planned build. No. It is actually all part of my plan to become an expert at mounting and unmounting GPUs.
Pro tip: Expansion slot brackets have the perfect shape for pressing down on the latch that unlocks expansion slots.
Pro tip #2: Always remember to put in your IO shield before attaching the motherboard to the case.
Random side quest: One of the expansion card screws fell into the GPU fan housing, got stuck and took half an hour to get it out. Picture taken just before I finally managed to do so.
After more than 1 hour, I’m finally back where I started, but with a sweet IO shield in place (not pictured). Still only counts as one. (D’oh counter: 3)
Attaching power connectors. This would have been a bit easier if I had inserted all the cables into the PSU before attaching it to the case.
Now on to connecting all the case peripherals. The case manual has a handy description of what all the different connectors on the board are. It took me a little while to realize that the picture of the controller board is upside down compared to a case standing normally.
HD audio connector (bottom left).
LED, Reset and Power connectors on the right.
USB 3.1 connector. Turns out my motherboard doesn’t actually have this, so I will need to get some kind of adapter. (D’oh counter: 4)
USB 3.0 #1 connected.
USB 3.0 #2 connected.
Connected. At this point I start to worry that the connectors might not leave enough space to place a GPU in slot 4. The case does come with a PCIE 16x extension cable and alternative mounting option. Problem for another day.
ARGB connectors. The ones on my motherboard are slightly different, so I will need another adapter. (D’oh counter: 5)
4-pin molex to power the case.
The power supply for the case controller is not keyed, which means there are two ways to insert it. The right way will give you nice lighting on your case. The wrong way will fry your case controller, cause your PSU to ignite and burn your house down (or something like that). At this point the shape of the molex reminds me of some attention-grabbing warning I saw somewhere telling you to connect something in a certain way. Perusing the manual yields nothing but then I remember it was actually on a sticker attached to the case.
Attached to the case where you mount the motherboard.
Please don’t let it still be behind the motherboard. 😱
The gods answer my prayers, and after some searching I find the sticker on the bottom side of the reference sheet that I put all the screws on.
4-pin molex connecting in the right orientation (probably).
One more connector for fan control.
I hadn’t connected one of the GPUs to power yet.
Also done. Will it still turn on?
Sweet, sweet RGB lighting! Something is off though, the power button is behaving weirdly and I can’t turn the PC off.
Most likely culprit is the power connector. Yup, I connected Power to Reset and Reset to Power, that explains it. (D’oh counter: 6)
Another shot of the case after putting the side and top panels back. Clearly I need additional RGB lighting strips inside the case, but already looking pretty nice.
Other side. The photos don’t quite do the RGB justice, it’s super vibrant in real life and also changes over time. There’s a bunch of preset patterns that can be toggled with button on the front panel.
Back view + putting in wifi antennae.
Final test: Installing Ubuntu from USB drive.
Resolution sucks without NVIDIA drivers but OK.
In case you ever wondered what 64 virtual cores look like in htop…
Dual GPU reporting in!
Quick disk perf check. 1.3GB/s write, 3.2GB/s read. 😎
That’s all folks!