Building a virtualization-heavy Threadripper productivity workstation + gaming PC

I have been planning this build for a long time now and yet somehow it never seems to get past the planning stage. Either because there’s some new piece of hardware I’m waiting for because I think it will be great for it (like Threadripper) or when that piece of hardware comes out there are still unresolved questions about it (like IOMMU groups in Threadripper…).

But the basic idea is that I want a single machine for all my productivity and gaming needs. My main OS is Linux but I will need Windows with GPU passthrough for the gaming side of things because dual-booting is so 90s. Unfortunately right now I guess that limits me to Vega, unless somebody can figure out how to get a Nvidia GPU passthrough to work with Threadripper. I will also probably run multiple Linux VMs bu usually without the passthrough. Though I would like the option of starting a Linux VM with the passthrough GPU as well in case I want to access that GPU’s horsepower under Linux. Will probably use QEMU + Linux KVM as my hypervisor.

This is easily the most ambitious (and expensive…) PC build I’ll have ever done but it’s something that I plan to use for a long time. Here is the general plan:

  1. Case - Be Quiet Dark Base 900 Pro
  2. PSU - Corsair RM1000i
  3. Motherboard - Leaning towards the ASRock X399 Taichi but I’m not married to it
  4. CPU - Threadripper 1950X because with everything else as expensive as it is why settle for less
  5. Memory - G.SKILL Flare X 3200 4 x 8 GB
  6. GPU 1 (host OS) - GTX 1050 (haven’t decided on brand)
  7. GPU 2 (passthrough) - Vega 64 (haven’t decided on brand)
  8. Storage - 2 x Samsung 960 Evo 1 TB M.2 drives + various mechanical (still deciding)
  9. Cooling - EKWB custom loop

I do hope to run the M.2 drives in RAID 0 once that becomes a thing with Threadripper (supposed to be soon…). I plan to include mechanic drives as well because 2 TB isn’t enough for me and even if SSDs are less likely to fail I still want something to back everything up to. Plus storage for media and stuff that isn’t really performance sensitive. Might do either 2 drives in RAID 1 or 4 drives in RAID 10.

Anyway, that’s the jist of it. Thought I would see if anyone here had thoughts on this or has attempted something similar.

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Hi mate,

Sounds fantastic! I did something VERY similar, even my thought process was more or less on par.

Only difference though, is that I cannibalised most of the existing bits from another system of mine, but my build looks more like this:

  • Corsair 570X RGB Case
  • Corsair AX860i PSU
  • Corsair H115i AIO Cooler
  • EVGA GTX1070 SC Black 8GB
  • Sandisk 960GB SSD
  • Samsung 850 pro, 240GB SSD (current boot drive)

I pulled out my Z170/6700K and RAM, and installed

  • Gigabyte X399 mobo
  • Threadripper 1950X
  • Running 16GB of Crucial Ballistix RAM; second 16GB kit (pulled out from the 6700K/Z170 system) not installed - for the time being. Contemplating ordering a 3200 MT/s kit.
  • Used the included bracket from AMD to fit the Corsair cooler.

I haven’t done PCIe pass through yet, but have got KVM working in Fedora 26.

FYI I also just setup a ZFS NAS with 20TB RaidZ2 accessible space just about a month ago with FreeNAS, so I just mount to and write to this directly.