After months of research, perusing pcpartpicker, dreaming, fretting, saving, hesitating, and dreaming some more, I finally purchased this build that I'm planning on using for GPU data analysis.
I'm a grad student in astrophysics and my research lab has about 14 TB of data. I have access to HPC resources on campus, but it's much more convenient to do things on a dedicated machine if possible. Plus, the analysis I'm working on will definitely benefit from GPU(s).
I frequently consulted Tim Dettmers' help guide for advice about what's important and what's not important when it comes to training machine learning algorithms (e.g. neural networks) on real world data.
CPU: Chose the Intel i7 5930k because this was the ~cheapest intel processor that supports all 40 pcie3 lanes. Added a nice water cooler for overclocking.
GPU: Went with the beast 980 Ti; was torn between 3x960 (4GB) and 1x980 Ti (6GB) [initially], but decided for the latter because of its larger memory bus, beastly core count, and the fact that it should last me for awhile [edited at later date: Added an additional 980 Ti, so now have 2 980 Ti's in SLI]. I know Pascal is set to be released "sometime" this year, but I don't want to fall into the "waiting for the next GPU" hole.
Samsung 950 256GB for boot/cache, because at 2-2.5 GB/s read and 1.5 GB/s write, I can justify the $1/GB.
4x2TB Hitachi 7200RPM HDD/s in (software) RAID 6, plus one spare. This gives me 4 TB of usable space, but if I abandon RAID and include my spare I can get 10TB.
OS: Ubuntu 14.04 ; setting up double screens was a nightmare...if you're encountering problems with a similar setup, let me know and I can try to pass on some hard-earned wisdom.
Cable management: is not something I have accomplished here. I went with a cheaper & semi-modular PSU which I regret. I can always upgrade this later. If anyone has any tips and/or tricks, definitely let me know.
Everything else was secondary, so I basically went with the cheapest components I could find that would support the GPU/CPU/storage setup that I wanted (I was sure to get a motherboard with a pcie3x4 M.2 slot and enough PCIe3x16 slots to support 2 GPUs).
Since there motherboard M.2 slot shares PCI bandwidth, I got an external M.2 -> PCIe adapter for ~$30 and just used the third PCI slot to host my M.2 SSD.
Zero problems, overclocks extremely easily by about 30% (with the watercooler and a reasonable motherboard).
Keeps my i7-5930k at 25/45 degrees C at idle/load, quiet, fairly easy installation
Easy to overclock once setup
lots of bells and whistles, most of which are completely irrelevant.
I made the n00b mistake of assuming that the "raid" controller was a hardware raid controller (which I naively assumed was better). It isn't, and the entire marketing of "raid" features on most consumer motherboards are just garbage. Either use a real raid controller or setup software raid.
may the good lord help you if you aren't running Windows or if you want to deal with getting updates over the internet (a feature they offer but I was never able to get work)
Posts twice, and the first "post" (keyboard is unrecognized) can last a long time (like 20-30 seconds? Ain't nobody got time for that). This is apparently a fairly common problem that others have claimed resulted from disconnecting the power supply for any length of time.
Not much to say here, though I haven't done anything fancy like overclock, etc.
So worth it. Speeds are as advertised.
<3, does anyone anywhere ever have anything bad to say about 980 ti's? I didn't think so.
Lots of room, looks great! Extra back panel to hide cables.
Comes with cables (cool), but semi modular was a baaaaad choice on my part. Cable management has been a bit of a nightmare (though things could be worse, too).
Great buy for the price ($90), but a lot of choppiness even with everyday usage (not gaming).
Works fine, but I'm not wild about these switches. I was hoping for something a little more clump-y, but these are extremely click-y, and the restorative force of the keys takes some getting used to. Also quite loud. I think my office neighbor may be planning to murder me.