Computer Workstation, Part II

Posted on December 24, 2014 by Nepherte in Hardware

Introduction

It’s that time of the year. The holidays are just around the corner and in the true spirit of Christmas, I decided to get myself a brand new computer. With sadness in my heart, I depart from the workstation that got me through 5 years of University. It is only now that I realize that Microsoft has never gotten a hold of the little bugger. It looks like Arch Linux has served me well throughout the years. That is quite an accomplishment. But let us not dwell on what Operating System you should, or should not, use. Way to philosophical for this post.

System Specifications

I choose components based on four criteria: silence > performance > reliability > linux compatibility. The first determines the case, cooler and fans. The second means using an Intel CPU. The third dictates a workstation motherboard and quality PSU. The fourth ultimately boils down to an Nvidia GPU. Taking these constraints into account, I got the following list of components:

  • Case: Fractal Design R5
  • Fans: 3x Noctua AF-14 PWM fans
  • PSU: Seasonic Platinum 660W
  • MB: Asus Z-97 WS
  • CPU: Intel i7 4970
  • Cooler: Noctua U12S
  • RAM: Kingston HyperX Fury 2x8GB
  • SSD: Samsung 850 Pro 256 GB
  • Graphics: Asus 970GTX STRIX
  • Optical Drive: Asus BC-12D2HT

Building Experiences

To build or not to build? Instead of ordering a computer from the likes of Dell or Hewlett-Packet, I figured a true engineer simply assembles his own. With nothing but a screw driver and the basic building blocks, I relived my childhood years wasted on Lego.

After hours of reading manuals - yes, some people do read them - I puzzled all the pieces together right in time for dinner. I held my breath. Would it boot or would it explode in my face? After powering up, lights started blinking. That’s always a good sign. As it turns out, I did get most of it right from the beginning. A complete check-up revealed that I did not correctly wire the front audio connectors. Who needs those when you have a dedicated hi-fi system right? Other than that, no malfunction of any sorts. A job well done.

Finished Workstation

I was pleased to hear that the system is dead-silent. No whining of the sorts. Got a little worried that the graphics card would make too much noise. Turns out that at normal duty the fan does not spin at all. What I really liked is that you can now configure the fan speeds in the UEFI. Using Arch Linux, I was rather annoyed that until now everything was managed at OS level. Set the fans to run steady and strong at 500 PWM to keep things cool. To wrap things up, here’s a picture of the finished workstation:

Finalized & hand-build workstation. Love the beige colors. Admire the cable management.