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Threadripper 2950x/1080ti Gaming & Heavy Virtualization Rig


#1

Damn, its nice to be back, it’s been a while since I last built my 2500k/GTX570 gaming rig back in the Sandy Bridge days, this time we’re doing an overkill AMD flavored workstation.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

Type Item Price
CPU AMD - Threadripper 2950X 3.5GHz 16-Core Processor $1164.99 @ PC-Canada
CPU Cooler Noctua - NH-U14S TR4-SP3 140.2 CFM CPU Cooler -
Motherboard Gigabyte - X399 DESIGNARE EX ATX TR4 Motherboard $499.00 @ Amazon Canada
Memory G.Skill - Trident Z RGB 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3200 Memory $682.00 @ Newegg Canada
Storage Samsung - 970 Evo 500GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive $229.99 @ Amazon Canada
Storage Samsung - 860 Evo 1TB 2.5" Solid State Drive $229.99 @ Memory Express
Video Card EVGA - GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB SC2 Video Card $949.99 @ Mike’s Computer Shop
Case Corsair - Crystal 570X RGB White ATX Mid Tower Case $224.99 @ Mike’s Computer Shop
Power Supply Corsair - RMx White 750W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply $199.99 @ Amazon Canada
Operating System Microsoft - Windows 10 Pro OEM 64-bit $165.75 @ Vuugo
Monitor Pixio - PX277-N 27.0" 2560x1440 144Hz Monitor $509.99 @ Amazon Canada
Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts
Total $4856.68
Generated by PCPartPicker 2018-09-14 00:33 EDT-0400

Goals of the System:

Ultraspec Gaming Rig

Sharp smooth gaming 1440p @144hz

Typical Games I want to play:

  • Minecraft on low settings.

No, just kidding,

  • Witcher 3
  • ARMA 3
  • PUBG
  • Planetside 2
  • Cities Skylines
  • Rainbow 6 Siege
  • Divinity Original Sin 2
  • Insurgency Sandstorm
  • War Thunder
  • Just Cause 3
  • Watchdogs 2
  • Destiny 2
  • GTA V with mods
  • Metro Last Light
  • Titanfall 2 (why is no one playing this?)

Upcoming Games:

  • Cyberpunk 2077
  • ElderScrolls 6
  • Fallout 76
  • Metro Exodus
  • Star Citizen (once we confirm it’s not a scam :wink:

I’ll likely store most games that I am not immediately playing on the 1TB SATA SSD, then use Steam mover to move my current playlist to the NVMe drive for optimal performance. Also planning on running a TS3 or Mumble server in a VM if I come across any good clan based MMOs.

The Homelab Workstation:

Cyber Security Test Environment/CyberRange

I’m looking to build a massive virtual environment running on one of VmWare Workstation/ESXI/VirtualBox/Hyper-V/KVM/Proxmox. I’ll have to do some testing and more research to determine which hypervisor is optimal for my set up.

Three possible routes:

  1. Run VMware Workstation or Virtualbox within Windows 10
  2. Run ESXI/KVM/Proxmox straight on the hardware then pass the GPU and other IO devices to a Windows 10 VM for gaming (VFIO)
  3. Dual boot Windows 10 and the Hypervisor and pick between them depending on work or play (Last resort option)

Obviously there is a performance decrease gaming on a VM, but according to some research if you get the hardware passthrough working smoothly (GPU, IO devices etc), it should be under 10%.

Essentially what I am going to do is set up a sandbox virtual environment complete with firewalls/IDS/IPS, VLANs, virtual switches, vulnerability scanners, sensors with various flavors of Linux and Windows servers hosting webservers, databases and other typical enterprise tech. Later on I plan on hooking up my workstation to some other physical tech such as Raspberry Pis and other enterprise networking equipment as I expand. Later on I will likely add a 4x network card into one of the PCI slots.

The point of the homelab is to learn how to configure, operate and maintain all these technologies to advance my career.

AMD Threadripper 2950x gives me 16 cores/32 threads to work with allowing me to save 4 cores for the host, then use the remaining 12 cores on the VMs. I currently have the PC Partpicker list to have 32GB of ram, but I may up that to 64GB. Therefore I can dedicate 1 core/2 threads and 4GB to each of the VMs. I plan on installing the host on the NVME drive and saving the ISOs and virtual disk images to the SSD. In the future I will likely add more SSD storage, NVMe RAID 0 or the like for some massive IO speeds.

Data Science/Deep learning:

I’m looking to get back into programming and data science related things, I’ve used Tableau quite a bit and I’m getting into Elastic search, but obviously I need more horsepower to do the things that I am planning on. I’m going to attempt to plug through as many ML/AI online courses as I can and play around with Tensor Flow to see if I can get it to use some of my GPU’s horsepower.

Current Parts List Critique:

CPU Cooler: Kind of a new platform, so very few dedicated coolers available for Threadripper. I read up on the TR4 coolers, obviously x399 is a much bigger socket than normal and it only makes sense to get a cooler where the coldplate has full coverage of the IHS heat spreader. Originally I looked at the Enermax LiqTech AIO, however looking through reviews, it appears that most people are having their coolers’ insides corrode to the point of serious interior blockages are arising in the copper fins, pump and rest of the radiator.

Air coolers are much easier to maintain, so I’m looking to stay with an air cooler unless another awesome TR4 specific AIO comes out of the woodwork.

The RAM

Lurking on various tech forums suggests that Threadripper desires low latency ram with high clocks for optimal performance, however it seems many DDR4 modules are finicky and apparently B-Die are from Samsung and have the best compatibility/performance. These GSkill modules are rated pretty good and are compatible with the Designare board as far as I can tell. I will likely expand to 64GB later by buying another kit, filling all 8 DIMM slots.

The Motherboard

This one for me is a really mixed bag, I have no idea what to get for the x399 chipset motherboard. Each brand, Asus, Asrock, Gigabyte, MSI etc all have some upsides and some downsides. It seems x399 has been plagued with sub-par BIOS updates and I’ve came across forums mentioning memory compatibility issues due to an AGESA update from AMD.

At this time the Gigabyte Designare looks pretty good, but according to reviews on Newegg and Amazon, it looks like the few purchasers got unlucky and received duds. Alternatively the AsRock Taichi is apparently solid according to reviews.

The Video Card

I have a 1080p 22" screen currently sitting on my desk and a 1080p 32" screen sitting on the other side of the room, I want to complement the monitor on my desk with the 27" Pixio which I have seen pretty decent reviews. I’ve previously looked at the Asus Swift series, but if the Pixio delivers nearly the same image, the cut in price seals the deal for me**.**

NVIDIA is playing a bit of a game of chicken with their new 2080ti prices, trying to keep the 10 series as a viable option purely through price until they rid themselves of their stock. I’ve opted to go 1080ti as I expect RTX to initially be a platform specific dud, just like PhysX. Cool tech, but broken and barely any games support it with massive performance loss. No dice.

If I can find a sealed box 1080ti on Kijiji or Ebay for a bit less prior to any price drops by NVIDIA for the MSRP, I’ll pick it up on the “used” market.

The PSU

Obviously I could have gone for a EVGA SuperNova G3 @750w vs the RM model, however looking at prices of custom sleeved cables, the RM model turns out to actually be cheaper than buying the PSU and modded cables separately.

A Threadripper overclocked with PBO or even manually will draw a massive amount of power along with a 1080ti, 750W should be enough for both. If I were to add a second card in SLI I’d bump it up to at least 850w or even higher.

Anyways, if you guys see anything amiss in my parts list or have any recommendations, I’m all ears.

Cheers!


#2

Do be aware PUBG’s Battleye now bans based on VMware or ESXi. KVM seems unaffected by Battleye at the moment.


#3

That’s really interesting, I guess they don’t want people changing their virtual hardware IDs to get away with cheating.


#4

If you care about sequential write speeds, you should opt for the 1TB version of the 970 evo as it has twice the speed of the 500GB.


#5

It will just prevent you from running the game. I found this out while running a VM in VMWare Workstation, not realizing it had to be shut down before running the game. I wasn’t banned.

As it turns out, many (many) people were or are running a “radar” app within a VM, which sniffs the packets on the local network in order to determine the location of enemy players. This is why PUBG decided to blacklist VMWare. Kind of unfair (some of us do actual work, and play games like PUBG on break or while waiting for a compile…)


#6

Have you build this yet? if so how did it work out? I have a similar build in mind for similar purposes, specifically #2 of your routes but also set up some VMs for IBM QRadar and a couple of other things.


#7

Hi there,

your build is almost the same pc-build I did to be used as my workstation. I would be very grateful if you can spend some time and give me some information about your setup or an advice about mime.

The reason is that I’m getting many BSoDs in an unpredictable manner once in a time, both under idle or heavy load, which most of the time are BSoDs of DPC_WATCHDOG_VIOLATION, CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED and occasionally KERNEL_DATA_INPAGE_ERROR and SYSTEM_SERVICE_EXCEPTION. The bad news don’t stop there, after the system reboots form such an BSoD the bios cannot even post and enters to the bios setup. Then when I go to the boot priorities setting, the list of boot devices is empty, that’s it no disk at all, no boot drive. By that time the mobo is giving me the code A0 (IDE initialization is started). In order to overpass this weird behavior I’ve to force shutdown the pc and start it again, then magically the system posts and boots into the windows without any hassle.

I’m really frustrated and very disappointed and the worst is that I cant find any clue about the root of the cause of this odd behavior even reproduce it. Below you can find my setup:

Mobo: Gigabyte X399 Designare EX (Bios F11e)
CPU: AMD Threadripper 2950x
RAM: 4x8 GB TridentZ RGB 3200 C16 (XMP Profile)
SSD: Samsung EVO 970 512GB NVMe
VGA: EVGA GeForce GTX 1080Ti
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64bit (Version 1809)

In addition I’ve installed both the AMD chipset driver 18.10_1018 along with the AMD Ryzen Master. One very weird think is that despite this is a 16 cores/32 threads CPU, in the device manager I can see only the 31 processors instead of the total 32, do you see this in your system to? It might be a minor issue not related to the problem, I’m not sure.

I don’t want to bother you farther, I just want to know if there is anyone with the same symptoms like mine getting occasionally BSoDs. My first thoughts are that may be there is a faulty sata controller on the mobo or the samsung 970 evo it self is damaged.

Honestly I’m thinking to return both the Mobo and the CPU and go with Intel I can’t afford the possibility to lose my work.

Thanks in advance


#8

I’m not sure if i would go as fare as calling rtx a dud, The idea itself is brilliant. However i do not think the current cards are strong enough for it to be useful in modern games. And i also think by the time the technology is mature we have moved on from the rtx 20 series.
And if it does suceed, I hope we are not stuck with nvidias proprietary rtx.