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In about July of 2017 I started looking for a new system to replace my aging but still quite capable 3960X system that I'd had for several years. That system had been very good to me - I splurged on a Rampage IV Extreme board and lucked out with a 3960x that did 4.8Ghz stable out of the box with 32GB of 2400MHz quad channel memory. It was in the top 5-10% of all benchmarks right up until I sold it in December of 2017. I had installed and run any number of configurations on it for graphic design and gaming, including a fully functional dual boot of OSX High Sierra and Windows 10.
I briefly flirted with an upgrade to a 4960X, but these chips were only able to achieve 4.5GHz, and it actually benchmarked lower than my 3960X at 4.8, so I sold it and switched back. Even when the 5960X came out, I stuck with my 3960X as the online results were too close to make the move and cost seem worth it.
A big part of my decision to upgrade was also aesthetics. The RIVE is an EATX board and I had it built into a NZXT Phantom 630 case. It was BIG. On the plus side, it was also silent, but I wanted to free up some space under my desk, and frankly the whole RGB fad was starting to become more mainstream and affordable, so I figured I'd invest in something I could stick on my desk and would look... rad.
Enter Corsair. I've been a big Corsair fan for a long time, mostly because of their power supplies and AIO cooling solutions. I've owned 6 different watercooling solutions and 5 different PSUs over the years, and all have been flawless. I also really liked their often buggy but fairly robust monitoring solution in the LINK and CUE software. I had an AX1200i from a previous build left over, so after seeing the Computex SYNC IT demo (read: sweet) and researching other brands and their cooling/RGB/monitoring solutions, I decided that I wanted to build my system around a complete Corsair ecosystem.
This was around the time the 8700K was released.. and instantly sold out. After reading the reviews I realized this was the chip I wanted to go for, but it wasn't available anywhere. Knowing that components would go on sale regularly, particularly during Black Friday/Boxing Day, and with the lack of 8700Ks in the retail channel, I decided that I'd be smart and only buy components when they were on an aggressive sale.
This lead me to purchase the entire system slowly over the course of about 4 months, culminating in the purchase of the 8700K, motherboard, memory, and 1080 Ti on boxing day. Reviewing the partpicker price history, I certainly got lucky - I paid more than 1/3 less than their listed historical all time low for the system as a whole. Score!
Build wise the system was a breeze to put together. I've joked with friends (who always make me build their systems) that I have a perfect record in building systems that always startup and boot the very first time the power button is pressed, and this was no exceptional (though I had my doubts). The sheer number of cables that needed to be routed, managed and plugged in was simply hellish. Each fan has a PWM power cable that needs to feed back to the Commander Pro, plus a seperate RGB cable that have to be connected to an RGB controller.. and then back to the Commander. Add in the cables for the H150, Sata power for everything, plus link cables for the PSU and USB cables for everything and the cabling was a nightmare. I did manage to get everything looking extremely tidy and clean, but it took a long time and many, MANY cut zip ties. I absolutely attached and then cut off at least 5x more zip ties than are actually in the final build.
I have to give Corsair credit that everything worked perfectly the first time I plugged it in, though they could definitely do to simplify the whole wiring process. I mean why can't the Commander Pro have an RGB controller built in? And why do I need to use separate SATA power for the RGB controller and Commander? And whats with the flat ribbon cables? The black colour is nice, but they are impossible to bundle together cleanly. Also the SATA power connector cables on each component are WAY too short. If I'm nitpicking on Corsair I will say the 570X should have come with the PSU shroud in the box (to hide cables - it's a USD$3.99 part) and have a USB-C port on the control panel without having to drop $20 on an 'upgrade' part. Plus I'm utterly baffled by case manufacturers putting power buttons and ports on the top of a mid tower case - particularly one that's 100% glass. I mean this thing is going to sit on a desk, obviously, so put the f&%$@! buttons ports on one of the sides so I can see and reach them. It's not rocket science here lads. Fortunately I don't use or even connect front panel audio or USB ports, and I use a keyboard for powering on my system, so it's not really an issue, but seriously...
Other than wiring, there were no other major issues. The Gigabyte board was a dream to work with, although being a consumate Asus ROG guy since the dawn of time (I've literally never owned anything but ASUS motherboards) I found the BIOS confusing and somewhat poorly laid out and organized. Plus they use non-standard names for some options, and hide other options behind the requirement to type a very specific word into the value field to open it up.
The EVGA card is great - the fan on the card stays off until you actually start gaming, and it runs silent when on. I literally just plugged it in and haven't messed with it since. It stays <45°C when gaming, is totally silent, and just works. Kudos EVGA.
I delidded my CPU using a Rockit88 tool and spent a LOT of time getting the Coolabratory application perfect so the layer on the chip and IHS were as thin as physically possible. I also used some old TIM prior to this to test the height and spacing between the IHS and Silicon, and ended up using some fine grit sandpaper to remove maybe 0.5mm from the lip of the IHS to bring it closer to the core silicon. Based on how thin the TIM spread when I was testing, it is possible my IHS is actually contacting the core directly, but I obviously can't be sure.
In the end I was able to get the CPU to 5GHz at an obscenely low 1.285v with LLC at Turbo. That said the chip will not run AVX instruction sets stably beyond 4.8GHz without voltage in the 1.36v+ range. So my final overclock uses an AVX offset of 2. I will note that the motherboard/RAM try and set VCCIO and VCCSA way too high when left at auto (1.25 and 1.35). I tested with various values and was able to manually set to 1.15 and 1.20 respectively for stability.
The Corsair RAM was a big surprise - it overclocks incredibly well! I was able to get 4133MHz stable with stock XMP timings and voltage, or run at stock 3600 speed with the SPD settings from the 2133MHz table entry: 15-16-16-32-2T, making it some of the fastest memory I've seen benchmarked in AIDA64 and SuperPi.
After getting my baseline 5GHz overclock stable, I started playing with adding some more speed. The TL;DR is that I was able to achieve 5.1 with 1.33v and AVX -3, and 5.2 with 1.38v and AVX -2. At 5.2 the voltage is now high enough that the chip will stably run AVX instructions at 5GHz.
I've continued to stick with my 5GHz OC just to keep voltage to a minimum and for noise reasons - the H150 and my delid keeps the chip incredibly cool, but I like my systems to be dead silent, so I'm running the fans at a constant 900RPM. At this speed the CPU idles around Δ8-10°C (~30-32°C), and loads up at 70°C.
So overall a great success. I'm not 100% positive this system is that much faster than my old 3960X in real world use (gaming/graphics), but it feels snappier in general usage and certainly uses less power and throws less heat. Since most things in this build were a positive, I'll just note the negatives in summary.
CONS 570X buttons and ports are in the wrong spot 570X should come with PSU shroud and USB-C control panel 570X wiring channel isn't large enough (needs to be bigger to accommodate more cables) 570X top mounted 120mm fan locations are not adjustable (channels not slotted) 570X hard drive mounting sleds mount the drive backwards (personal pref) Flat Corsair wires are a pain to bundle cleanly Commander Pro should have an RGB hub built in (or an expansion port for one) Commander Pro needs more USB ports, fewer Temp Probe ports I got an RGB hub with every Corsair product I bought. I have four and need one. Sell separate? SATA power cables on Corsair hub/commander/pump need to be longer H150 should have removable harness for removing fan plugs (when using commander) H150 USB and SATA power cables are too short H150 pump cold plate needs to be larger and square H150 pump block (in my opinion) could use more pressure AX1200i Link cable needed two cables and a docking component... overkill? USB? Gigabyte Motherboard accent overlay strip is ugly (and replacements aren't available) Gigabyte VRM/Mosfet heatsinks were not tightened down enough I still wish motherboard manufacturers would angle edge ports 90° (ATX, USB, etc)