Hexacore build 2013 finished

I’ve been gathering parts for the last few weeks and I’ve finally got all of it. Here are the main components of my hexacore build for 2013.

  • Intel Core i7-3930K
  • Gigabyte GA-X79-UP4 motherboard
  • Corsair H80i CPU Cooler
  • G.Skill Ripjaws Z Series 32GB (4x8G) DDR3-1866Mhz
  • MSI GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB OC Edition video card
  • Fractal Design Define R4 (Black Pearl) tower
  • Corsair TX750 v2 power supply

You can check out my PCPartPicker page for more details of the parts.


I opted for this Gigabyte board to keep the cost low. It is a mid-range motherboard and for the its features and price, it’s great. I originally was looking at the Asus Sabertooth but I didn’t plan to overclock much so I figured the cost difference wasn’t worth it.

If I could go back and decide on a different water cooler I would. The H80i is okay and keeps my CPU temperatures around the high 30°C on idle – running at 3.5GHz. The noise level is fine but noticeable unlike the H60 I have installed in my 2600K – which is near silent on idle. But when I have the computer doing heavy task, this cooler is like a jet engine. I should’ve learned my lesson when I used the H70 cooler with an i7 960 a few years ago. I wonder if the H100 is any better in terms of sound when cooling. One of these days I’ll swap the H60 and H80i and compare the performance and sound. Other than that, I guess it does its job.


I chose the Define R4 because a friend of mine (Jeff) already has it and recommended it. There were plenty of good reviews online as well. The case itself is heavy and well built. No rattling, no vibrations. There are dust filters installed on the bottom, front and top where fans can be mounted. The cable management space on the opposite side is good though the panel itself is not curved (like the Corsair 600T) to give some more extra room. The front panel is held by a magnet. There are USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports on the front. It comes with 2x 140mm fans which are preinstalled in the front and back of the case. I moved the back one to the front.


One of the things I liked about the R4 case is the label for the different size motherboard it supports. As you can see, it has “A” for ATX and “M” for Micro-ATX. I don’t have to keep lining up the holes on the motherboard just to figure out which hole needs the standoff screws.


Here’s a pic before I installed the components. As you can see, it can hold up to 8 2.5” or 3.5” hard drives. All trays have anti-vibration mounts. Each tray can be pulled out to help with installation. The cage that holds 5 (upper) can be removed to give you room for mounting radiators for water cooling solution. This cage can also be moved 90° so that the SATA ports of the hard drives are facing the back of the case (towards the video card) – if this is your preference. The cage that holds 3 (lower) can be removed or moved closer, towards the bottom-mounted power supply. In this position, you cannot have the upper cage mounted above the lower cage.


Another thing I loved about the R4 case is the different screws come individually packed in baggies and are stored inside this box. On this box is a diagram of each different screws where it shows quantity and what they are used for. No more guessing.

My only complain about this tower is it wasn’t as tool-less as I’d hope for.


This processor is the i7-3930K. It is a hexacore processor meaning it has 6 cores – with hyper-threading enabled it has 12 threads. It is part of the Sandy Bridge line up, but the enthusiast. I got a great deal on it otherwise I would’ve waited for what Ivy Bridge has to offer or even Haswell. But for the price, I couldn’t pass it up.


I’ve always had great experiences with G.Skill ram so for this build I continued to use them. I never had any of them fail or have had any incompatibility issues. The 3930K processor uses the X79 platform which supports quad-channeling. For this build I went with the Z-series for a total of 32GB (4x8GB) DDR3-1866Mhz.


I’ve always bought eVGA video cards ever since I switched to nVidia. But for this build I went with MSI. It has very good ratings and reviews. I also went with a 660 Ti rather than a 670 (originally planned). The 660 Ti doesn’t show much increased performance compared to my older eVGA 470SC (installed in my 2600K) but I wanted to keep the cost low. It’s not to say the card doesn’t perform great. It can still play all my games at high/ultra settings. Besides, I only plan to use 2 monitors max. If ever there comes a time when I will use more than 2 monitors, then I’ll consider an upgrade.


The above pic shows how the fan design is on this card. I’m used to the shroud look since that’s how the eVGA cards come in. I have yet to push it to the limit but the fans aren’t too loud. The Corsair H80i are a lot louder – by far. I’ve noticed it run around 40°C. I haven’t really taken note on its temperatures when I have it working hard.


I ran into an issue trying to use a Rosewill RC-507 firewire card (PCI). Windows recognized the card fine but I would get a power usage error in the device manager. Devices plugged into it are not recognize. I played around with the bios and found the above setting. Make sure to use legacy if you are planning to use older cards on EFI boards.

Overall, this build is great. It’s a little pricey compared to the general Intel i5 and i7 builds but so far from what I’ve done, the performance increase is worth the additional cost. I mostly capture old videos to AVI, do some editing, then render/encode it to MP4 using H.264. I can see the difference with the added 2 cores. I also play video games but performance isn’t much different. I could however render video and play video games at the same time – I actually could do that on my 2600K PC but it wasn’t all too pleasant. Now the experience is much better.

So here’s the finished build after installing the components.




I still have plenty of room for more hard drives and enough free SATA ports. I also have a Dell PERC 5i RAID card lying around if needed. The power supply will be able to handle more. I still want to run a few virtual machines so that could be what I’ll use more hard drives for. Here’s an overview video I posted on Youtube.

2013 hexacore build

I was going to wait for the Haswell processors to come out before considering on building another computer. But I was presented with an unbeatable deal on an Intel 3930K processor. I made the deal and I’m waiting on the arrival of the hexacore processor.

So far I got the Fractal Design Define R4 tower and the Corsair TX750 V2 power supply.

define r4

tx750 v2

I hope to get my motherboard, water cooler, and CPU soon. I won’t be using the quad channel ram yet. I have a spare dual channel 8GB (2x4GB) I will temporarily use and an old eVGA GeForce 550 video card. Still waiting for a good price on a quad channel 32GB (4x8GB) ram and eVGA GeForce 660 TI.

New PC built

I’m beginning to feel limited while using Apple products. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great platform. But as I start introducing non-Apple devices, I have to go out of my way to get it to work. I started looking into building a PC after 8 years of exclusively using Macs. At first I had my eyes set on an i7 Sandy Bridge but after doing more research and talking with experts, I decided to go with the last generation i7 (LGA1366, Bloomfield). Why?

  • More motherboards available
  • Supports faster memory – DDR31600
  • If I ever want to switch out CPU to the hexacore, I don’t have to switch out motherboards
  • X58 is a great platform and more stable

It’s been almost a week and I’ve been impressed by some of the tests I’m running. I will go part by part and tell you what I liked and disliked (if applicable).

Corsair Graphite 600T: I decided to spend the extra money getting this tower for several reasons.

  • I can run the cables in the back side of the tower. There’s plenty of room there.
  • It is truly tool-less.
  • Can hold 7 hard drives. It can be reconfigured and move around depending on how you want your airflow to work.
  • Removable dust filters.
  • Great quality and durable.
  • Bottom mounted PSU for liquid cooling solution.

So far, the only thing I don’t like is it doesn’t have a 3.5” slot. I don’t use a floppy drive but most internal memory card readers use this slot. Now I have not only buy the memory card reader but an adapter to make it fit in the 5.25” slot.

Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3: I was going to get the ASUS Sabertooth but the Gigabyte has dual bios where if one were to fail to load, I can use the other and fix the issue.

  • 3 different raid controllers. 6 Intel (SATAII 3Gbps), 2 Gigabyte (SATAII 3Gbps), and 2 Marvell (SATAIII 6Gbps)
  • Supports triple channel ram up to 24GB
  • Software to OC is easy to use

One thing I don’t like is it doesn’t have an internal USB port. The front of my tower has a USB3.0 and uses the standard cable. In order for me to use it, I’d have to run the cable to the back of the tower and plug it in.

Intel i7 960 3.2GHz: Currently the fastest processor before going into the extreme hexacore CPU. I have seen people OC this over 4.0GHz so it has great potential. This is a quad core CPU and with Hyper Threading, it becomes 8 cores. I was considering the AMD Phenom II 1100T Black Edition but the benchmarks I’ve seen online were not impressive. Based on those benchmarks, it runs against the Intel i5 Sandy Bridge – not the i7.

Corsair Vengeance 12GB DDR31600: I was going to get a 6GB set but decided to go with the 12GB so that I can max it out in the future. It has XMP and all I needed to do in the BIOS is to set it to Profile 1. Comes with a heat spreader as well. It has a CAS Latency of 9 but seen it run at 8 when OC.

Seagate ST3500641AS: Seagate makes great drives and since I’ve started to use them, I haven’t had one go bad yet (knock on wood). Drives that have died on me are usually Maxtors and Western Digitals. These drives have a 16MB cache and runs at 7200RPM. I bought 4 of these 500GB hard drives and set them up as a RAID10. They run great and my Windows gives it a score of 6.1.

Corsair CMPSU-850TX: I figured 850W should give me enough for current any future mods. Supports SLI and Crossfire. It’s rated at 80Bronze. The only thing I don’t like is it doesn’t support the new ATX v2.3. Corsair just came out with the second version of the PSU. I could’ve waited but I didn’t want to. I figured the changes were not important for my set up and use.

Corsair CWCH70: I could’ve use the stock heatsink that came with my i7 but would need an aftermarket one if I decide to OC it. Rather than figure this out later, I bought it so it’s ready for OC. The install was not as easy as the videos I’ve seen on Youtube. Once installed, I get around 40-52 C on idle or normal use. When doing transcoding (high CPU usage) I don’t go over 65 C. Spending the extra $80 (after rebate) is worth it. It’s compact unlike the first versions of liquid cooling solutions.

EVGA nVidia GTX470SC: It’s not the high end video card in the series but works great. It has CUDA and works great with Adobe software. I have already used Adobe Premiere Elements 9 and exported an HD video to 1080i, 25fps. At the same time, I played Starcraft 2 on ultra settings. The computer remained stable and responsive. I was very impressed. All 8 cores were at 100% and ran around 52-65 C and the video card ran at around 84 C. Starcraft 2 was running at about 52-58FPS. I was able to ALT+Tab between applications, play HD videos off Youtube and watch an HD video off my hard drive.

Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit OEM: One of the best, if not the best OS Windows has “created”. I find the 64-bit to be more stable than 32-bit and with 12GB of ram, it’s necessary. I still miss things on OS X but there are things on Windows that don’t exist in my Apple. I love Live Writer. I can blog from my desktop. I wish Apple would create something that works similarly. The built-in Backup/Restore is still unreliable. I’ve had failed backups and failed restores. I decided to keep my iMac and run it side by side. My iMac will contain all of my important documents and use Time Machine to back up. Hopefully one day there will be a back up software/workflow as easy as Time Machine for Windows.

Whoever says using Windows is cheaper than a Mac is wrong. I have spent about the same price building this PC rather than purchasing a new Mac. I have already spent close to $300 on just software, where similar software is unnecessary or already included with a Mac. The hardware cost is about $1500. Unlike my Apple products though, I can switch out parts. To make this possible with Apple hardware, you’d have to purchase a Mac Pro which starts at $2400 and you are still limited to hardware that’s compatible. Regardless, I would have to use both in order to do everything I need to do. I just wish software licenses are easily transferable for both platforms.

Shout out to Jeff of JB Tech Enterprises and his brother Eric for helping me build this machine.

Edit: Here’s a video I posted on Youtube.