This build is 100% unplanned due the death of my previously featured build, Liquid Black Fury. Before anyone panics at that price tag, the price list includes gear that I have collected over the years, and I was able to reuse a significant number of liquid cooling parts from the last build. Either the CPU or motherboard had died, and I somehow decided that instead of looking for a used Z97 board or 4th gen CPU to diagnose the problem, it was easier to just buy new stuff. I did plan to keep that previous computer for at least two more years, but alas, my plans were thwarted. Thankfully, Intel was happy to RMA my 4790K (it was just under 3 years), which I was able to resell for a hefty price on ebay since it was BNIB. Selling the leftover RAM and 980ti from the previous build helped fund this one.
A few changes occured in the midst of the build. The original Monsoon reservoir was too large to fit in the new Define S2 case, and I did not want to remove the PSU near the front since I liked the cleaner look without the opening. I ended up picking an EK xres 140 for the build, but that lasted a week before the acrylic pump top started to crack. Thankfully, EK was able to replace it, but I had already purchased a reservoir and pump top combo from Singularity Computers. I was attracted to the Singularity due to the availability of the many ports. It made it seamless to attach a temperature probe and a drain directly without the use of any multiport fittings.
The cables extensions are from Ensourced Customs. I chose the color pattern to tie the different shades of white and silver together. I do have a set of white cablemod cables for the EVGA G2, but the Ensourced ones are far better made.
The case is set up with a 360 and a 280 radiator, both from Hardware Labs. The Fractal Venturi fans are all set as intake on the radiators with a sole exhaust fan running in the back. The motherboard has two external temperature headers. I used one for the water temp and one for intake air temp. Delta T generally stays below 8C. I found this configuration better than having the top radiator/fans set up as exhaust.
Truth be told, I was thinking of going with the 2700x, but I already had an Intel 1151 compatible waterblock and didn't want to buy a new one at the time. I actually tried to save some money by going with the 9600K and a "lesser" board from the Aorus line, but I decided to to just upgrade. Since I was going to overclock, the Aorus Master won out due to the numerous praises it received in reviews for the VRM cooling solution. In case someone asks why I didn't buy the 9900k, it was because it was no where to be found, and since I do very little productivity work outside of gaming and Lightroom, I thought the 9700K would be enough. Plus, I really needed my system up and running, and I had no idea when they'd be getting chips back in stock.
Performance has been great. I was tempted to swap out for a 9900K even after it was done just for that extra edge, but now that I have my system tuned with the overclocks, I'm far less inclined.
9700K - 5.2Ghz core and 4.8Ghz uncore at 1.30V with vdroop. BIOS setting is 1.35V. I can run some benchmarks at 5.4ghz/1.4v
RAM - 4133mhz at 16-17-17-37, 1.45V
1080ti - 2062 core and 12710 memory
Prime95 Small FFTs, AVX Disabled
Prime95 In Place FFTS 1344K AVX Disabled
Prime95 In Place FFTS 1344K AVX Enabled
Karhu Software's Ram Test (18000%).
Cinebench - 1790
Intel XTU - 3490 (Top Spot for the 9700k at HWBot. Ram was still at 4100)
3DMARK Time Spy - 10666 (Current in 6th place with 9700K and single 1080Ti. I might try a custom 1080ti bios next)
Userbenchmark - 136% on the 9700k at 5.4ghz (https://www.userbenchmark.com/UserRun/13383454)
I currently have the top 9700K spot on HWbot with that XTU score, which was actually done when the ram was at 4100mhz. I'm sure it'll be beat by someone soon. Interestingly, I think the XTU benchmark is pretty quick at finding instabilities. People like to quickly run Cinebench to catch issues, but I can run Cinebench at 5.4ghz/1.4V multiple times (Score was 1852) while instantly locking up or crashing with the XTU benchmark. I have to play with voltage/LLC a bit more at 5.4 is my guess.
Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Master
People like to give Gigabyte grief for the BIOS, but I found it just fine. The board itself is definitely well built. The VRM temps stay around 50 max during extreme loads. I found that I can drop them below 40 just by pointing a fan at them with the case open. The backplate on the board actually has thermal pads under the VRM area. Reviews have shown that to be helpful. All the little details like dual bios, easily accessible Clear CMOS button, and even multiple temp sensors (internal and temp probe headers) has made this whole process much easier.
1080TI and Gaming
The 1080ti FTW was a Hydro Copper model that I picked up used from Ebay. The Hydro Copper turned out to be a really well performing block. Load temps on the 1080ti was about 40 degrees with a water temp of 34 during gaming. EK had sale right before Christmas, and I ended up picking one of their waterblocks to streamline the look. Performance has been similar, but the OEM block used far more thermal pads to transfer heat from the PCB to the watarblock itself. I game mostly at 1440p, with Rainbow Six Siege being my most often played game. The 1080ti is more than enough for that. Wildlands runs at 1440p with everything set on Ultra between 70 and 90 fps. It's been a smooth experience with GSYNC. I will likely not upgrade until the next generation of cards are out.
The next time I have some time off, I might switch it out with silver fittings. I may do hardline at some point as well, but who knows.