GeForce Garage: How to Create a Monster Build
Our goal was simple: Absolute cosmic power in a PC chassis! Falling slightly shy of that lofty aim, we still managed to create something truly incredible—a monster gaming PC to shake the heavens. Like an origin story of a legendary new superhero, we take a not-so-mild mannered PC case and transform it with the highest performing components available inside, and a truly custom paint job on the outside.
To help us, we have tasked Larry Andersen of Ultimate Mods and renowned comic book creator Whilce Portacio (Batman, Wetworks, Spawn, Uncanny X-Men) to join forces in an effort to build a true Monster Rig - one with three GeForce GTX 980 video cards at its heart.
Pairing these Maxwell-based GPUs with X99 and Haswell-E is more than ideal. Maxwell is not only faster and more efficient than the competition, it also brings with it a host of custom features such as one-click optimization with GeForce Experience, unparalleled Virtual Reality (VR) support, Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR), Multi-Frame Sampled Anti-Aliasing (MFAA), and so much more to enhance your favorite games. X99 motherboards and Intel Haswell-E processors, meanwhile, deliver great power and versatility.
But an awesome rig is not just about the hardware. The total package also has an aesthetic appeal to it. Sure, the Corsair 780T looks super sleek as is, but with all that power inside just waiting to break free, we felt it needed an appropriate upgrade. That’s where Whilce Portacio comes in. When approached with the idea of unbridled power breaking from confinement, several concepts easily came to mind from a glowing egg brimming with energy, to claw marks revealing what lay inside. He eventually finalized on the creation you see before you, a ferocious monster with just the right touch of NVIDIA-inspired power, ready to pounce.
Watch the video below to see the birth of a beast.
Part Selection Methodology
The parts listed were chosen with careful scrutiny, but we encourage you to tailor your choices to meet your needs. Without further ado, here's what we went with for our Monster Rig.
GPUs: Maxwell GeForce GTX 980 in 3-way SLI configuration with the GeForce GTX bridge
We didn't stop at one Maxwell GeForce GTX 980. We went for a trio of them in a monstrous 3-way SLI configuration! Regarding Maxwell-based GPU's, there is literally no other option when seeking the fastest, most efficient desktop graphics solution. Each of our Maxwell GeForce GTX 980 video cards feature a base clock speed of 1126MHz, which can boost to 1216 MHz (Boost Clock), and there's plenty of additional headroom for extra overclocking. These GPUs also enjoy ample memory with 4096MB (4GB) of VRAM effectively clocked at 7010 MHz. Moreover, our 3-way SLI configuration is more than enough to fuel a 3-way surround monitor setup. In fact the GeForce GTX 980 can support up to 4 monitors with its wealth of connectivity options including 1x HDMI 2.0, 2x DisplayPort 1.2 and 1x Dual-Link DVI.
Motherboard: X99 ASUS Rampage V Extreme
Right now, the ASUS Rampage V Extreme sits atop of the competition for X99 motherboard solutions, thanks to the company's proprietary OC Socket. ASUS has essentially added a series of 6 extra pins to the 2011 pins found on Socket 2011. These extra pins allow the installed CPU to access added voltage lines for DDR4, which should lead to more reliable and extensive overclocking than is possible with motherboards without the proprietary OC Socket.
With the ASUS Rampage V Extreme, accompanied by a bevy of proprietary tuning utilities and software, we can hope to see up to 60% in performance gains at the CPU level and more than 12% improvement for DDR4 RAM (3000MHz), as reported by ASUS. Earlier testing conducted on a lower end ASUS X99 motherboard, also equipped with the OC socket, produced similar results. We were easily able to take an i7-5960X from 3.0GHz base clock to 4.5Ghz, thereby achieving a full 50% performance gain. However, our ASUS Rampage V Extreme is a dedicated overclocking solution, so further gains are possible. But processors are fickle and not every one will achieve the same OC results. Still, enthusiasts and novices will enjoy the broad range of features this board offers, such as the Ai Tuner, overclocking presets and other included software utilities to help tune their new rig to their liking.
This is Intel's first octa-core processor and it's blazing fast. The i7-5960X Haswell-E processor selected for our Monster Rig offers far better performance in multi-GPU setups, such as 3-way SLI. This means our 3-way SLI setup can enjoy a motherboard lane configuration that supports two PCI-E x16 and one PCI Express x8 (16-16-8). It features a large 20MB cache and ships with a base clock speed of 3.0GHz.
Haswell-E also improves Hyperthreading by utilizing up to 16 cores, which will equate to a total of 16 threads. Intel is on record promising a performance increase from 33% to 50%. Such advancement will be great for more modern games, such as the CPU-intensive Assassin's Creed Unity. In general, more applications are being coded with multithreading support and instructions as the technology advances, so expect to see Haswell-E utilized to a greater extent in 2015.
The base bandwidth for memory on the new Haswell-E CPU platform is DDR4-2133MHz. However it offers a wide birth of overclocking room, which can exceed well over 3000Mhz. DDR4 requires just a mere 1.2 volts of power to function. This reduces the power draw by 20% when compared to older DDR3 memory (1.5 volts). Companies such as GSkill, Kingston and Corsair currently offer DDR4 solutions in a variety of configurations. However, Corsair is a long-standing favorite of PC builders and overclockers, so we chose 2 of their 32GB kits for a total of 64GB.
Cooler: Corsair H100i AIO Cooler
To get the most out of our i7-5960X processor we selected Corsair's H100i closed loop AIO water cooler for its impressive cooling performance and hassle-free closed-loop convenience. It's a pre-filled, self-contained water cooling solution - an install-and-forget system that is devoid of algae build-up and does not require users to change water solutions. It features a dual 240mm radiator with two 120mm fans in a custom design. Corsair has worked to increase the efficiency while also lowering the noise output for improved performance. The H100i also features support for the company's Corsair Link software. This allows users to monitor coolant temps and make changes to cooling settings directly from a desktop environment without the need to dive in to the system BIOS. The cooler offers four basic modes including Quiet, Balanced, Performance and Maximum for extreme cooling at the cost of fan noise.
Case: Corsair Graphite 780T
This Graphite 780T is a very attractive chassis with its rounded corners, sleek design and stunning snow white color scheme. It is also extremely spacious with plenty of room for our modder to work unencumbered. It features support for 360mm radiators. The case also comes with a 140mm intake fan and a 140mm exhaust fan to ensure our system interior receives ample cooling and air flow. The white color scheme also makes a perfect side panel canvas for illustrator Whilce Portacio to work his magic and create a completely original and fearsome piece of artwork for our rig.
Storage: Corsair Force LX 512GB (2x), Seagate Barracuda 2TB (2x)
For lightning fast access speeds we went with two Corsair Force LX 512GB SATA 3 solid state drives, each capable of well over 500MB/s read and 450MB/s write speeds. Our sizeable Seagate Barracuda drives (2x) will round out our bulk storage solutions.
Power Supply: Corsair AX1200i
Finally powering it all is the Corsair AX1200i power supply, which is far more power than we need for this particular configuration, but then this is a Monster Build... It was selected for its modular design and efficiency. The PSU unit has earned an 80 Plus Platinum certification. It utilizes a minimal amount of power which leads to a reduced heat output while also reducing your household energy costs. This is a fully modular systems so our modders can create a clean and Spartan system interior where only the necessary cables are installed.
|GPU||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (3x)||$1649.97|
|SLI Bridge||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 3-way Bridge||$39.99|
|Motherboard||ASUS Rampage V Extreme||$474.99|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-5960X Haswell-E 3.0GHz LGA 2011-v3 140W 8-Core||$1049.99|
|RAM||Corsiar DOMINATOR 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR4 2666 (2x)||$1599.98|
|Cooler||Corsair H100i AIO Cooler||$89.99|
|Case||Corsair Graphite 780T||$179.99|
|Solid State Drive||Corsair Force LX 512GB (2x)||$479.98|
|Hard Drive||Seagate Barracude 2TB (2x)||$159.98|
|Power Supply||Corsair AX1200i||$194.59|
NVIDIA's Andrew Coonrad said it best in the video, it’s about “power and beauty.” Performance is taken care of with the perfect union of Haswell-E, the X99 chipset, DDR4 memory and Maxwell-based GPUs. An investment in Maxwell will supercharge your next PC gaming rig and give you access to NVIDIA's many features and enhancements that make games and gaming perceptively better. When paired with the power and versatility of Haswell-E and X99, the possibilities are boundless and extremely exciting for PC gamers.
Thanks to Whilce and Larry, our monster rig has the look and heart of a beast - from unparalleled performance to awe-inspiring aesthetics. Now the question is - "What will you do with X99 and Maxwell?"