13 Components needed to build India’s fastest PC

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What do you get when you mix the most expensive components the world has to offer and a magazine that’s been known to have lost a screw or two here and there? The answer is a PC that’s so powerful that it’s already computed the question to the answer to life, the universe and everything (we now know what it is, but we won’t tell you). This isn’t just any PC, it’s a PC with the power to hover on a bed of its own exhaust, draws enough power to require an arc reactor and if not adequately cooled, is hot enough to forge steel in. This is the kind of PC that would make Siri forget herself. We left no stone nor chip unturned to acquire the components for this monster among mortals. It is the ultimate creation, and only our hands are worthy enough to touch it. Muahahaha!

Processor :- Intel Core i7 – 4960x: When you’re trying to build the fastest PC, you can’t discount the fastest enthusiast grade CPU in the world, the 4960x. After all, you need the fastest CPU for the fastest PC and we would have settled for nothing less. With over 1.86 billion transistors on a die that’s merely 257mm, the 4960x packs a big punch and add the words “fully unlocked” to it and you’ll find overclocking enthusiasts drooling all over themselves. The 4960x was the only 6-core, hyper-threaded CPU available that could give us serious results, be it for multi-core video rendering or for other CPU intensive number crunching tasks. Using this Ivy Bridge – E chip also meant that we’ll have an updated memory controller which is rated for 1866 MHz natively, as opposed to the 1600 MHz seen earlier. As for future proofing, it provides official compliance with PCI Express 3.0 with 40 whole lanes of PCIe connectivity. This wonderful piece of silicon is unlocked, presenting a total of 63x multipliers which would let anyone easily push memory data rates past the 2400 MHz mark. This PC is so powerful that it took our rig to the top 100 list in 3DMark’s Hall of Fame without even minor over-clocking. Quite a feat.

Graphics Cards :- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780Ti in Quad SLI Have you heard the saying: “A good graphics card maketh a good gaming system”? Well we have, and it seems we’ve heard it enough times to change it into: “four good graphics cards maketh an awesome system”. More is always better (probably) and in this case we couldn’t leave out the best performing single GPU card on the planet and that’s why four of these power hungry silicon beasts were chosen, and also because it would be blasphemy to leave a slot empty on the Rampage IV. Together these cards have a total of 11,520 Stream processors and 12GB of Video memory, with the overall transistor count going beyond 24 Billion; boy that’s a lot. Benchmarking these cards was the most wonderful experience ever considering they toppled every other score that we had previously recorded. This was the only time when we saw the 3D Mark Fire Strike FPS in triple digits. We also used a triple monitor setup to run benchmarks at 5760×1080 resolutions at full settings. Tests like Unigine Heaven gave us 115FPS for 1080p and 40FPS for triple monitor tests. Cinebench R15 was another testament to the power of this machine with it getting 110.24 FPS in an OpenGL benchmark run. When the numbers started pouring in like rain in the monsoon, that’s the time we realised the sheer luxury of having this much power at our disposal

Motherboard :- ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition With the responsibility of fitting and managing so many expensive components on its shoulders, we need a motherboard that was exceptional, a board befitting a king. The Rampage IV Black Edition from ASUS was the only one that fit the bill. The board itself is awesome, but the OC panel even better. ASUS took all the standard overclocking options and put them into a separate panel that can be affixed to the front of the panel. This allows for on-the-fly overclocking with no need to enter the BIOS and incorporates features like an OC Key, VGA hotwire and an LN2 switch. The board is an all-black affair and understated enough for our more refined sensibilities (yes, we consider ourselves to be that refined). Of course, we didn’t select this board for its looks, we chose it for its Quad SLI and Crossfire-X support, exceptional power management, support for 8-PWM fans and support for RAMDisks and 2800MHz RAM. Oh, and the audio chipset on this is quite exceptional as well, saving us from the trouble of adding on a separate sound card. This truly is an exceptional board for an exceptional PC.

RAM :- Corsair Dominator Platinum 32GB 2133Mhz 32GB? Yes, you read that right, we had to settle for “only” 32GB of RAM. Not out of choice mind you, there wasn’t a single 64GB kit available in the country at the time we assembled this rig. Of course, no application really uses that much RAM, but who cares about the real world right? Corsair’s Dominator series of memory have developed a great reputation for their performance. Passmark for instance gave a score of 3074 in its Memory Mark tests which is nothing short of breath-taking. In all the time we were using this PC, the maximum RAM ever consumed even under taxing situations was under 7GB. Well that’s a lot of memory to spare. But wait! What about a RAMDisk? We have memory to spare right?

Power Supply Units :- Antec HCP Platinum 1300 Watts + 1000 Watts Power is never enough and when you have the most demanding hardware money can buy, you have all the more reason to control more of it. We had to put our heads together and calculate the amount of electricity this build would need and when we finally arrived at the figure in watts, our heads went into a tizzy just thinking about how we were ever going to fire up this monster. A 1200W PSU (the largest available in India) just wouldn’t cut it. Well, we decided that “two’s better than one” and went ahead with the build. What? Two PSUs? But how? Daisy-chaining multiple PSUs in not such a big deal. Read up about it if you must.

We initially planned to get two of the most powerful PSUs we could get our hands on and solder our own adapter to them, but luckily, our amateurish (at best) soldering skills were not put to the test as we managed to acquire two of Antec’s High Current Pro Platinum series PSUs. One churning out 1300W, the other a 1000. How were we lucky? These 80-plus Platinum certified PSUs support a feature called OC-link, essentially doing the job of daisy-chaining the PSUs for us, via a simple cable. The effective power keeping this system purring? 2300W. These are modular supplies too, so there’s no cable clutter to worry about. The hum that we hear when powering on this machine is pure bliss.

Keyboard :- Corsair Vengeance K70 Call us what you want but we openly claim that when it comes to using keyboards, mechanical keyboards pWn membrane keyboards and bury them in a deep grave. The feedback ON mechanical keyboards is unrivalled by anything except other mechanical keyboards. Cherry MX is known for their amazing mechanical key switches and the K70 uses their Red key switch flavour. We’ve come to love Cherry MX Red keys because of their responsiveness and since the K70 is primed for FPS gamers it has always been our choice for one of the best mechanical gaming keyboards available. With a uniform red backlight, key-by-key backlighting option and brushed aluminium finishing, the K70 fit is the perfect fit for this system.

Mouse :- Razer Ouroboros Borrowing a phrase from Casino Royale, and butchering it a bit, “There are mice and there are mice. This is the latter”. The Razer Ouroboros is no ordinary mouse. It’s an extension of your arm, an extension of your will. It’s perfectly balanced, melds into your hands and responds to your every command. The mouse is presented to you in a manner befitting its very existence– in a black, foam-lined case. The mouse itself has been designed and built with the utmost care and attention to detail and everything from the magnetic latches to the switches have been carefully chosen for optimum performance. Razer has outdone themselves with the Ouroboros and we couldn’t be more pleased. If ever there was a mouse to grace the ultimate PC, this is it.

Headphones : –Sennheiser G4ME Zero A good gaming PC needs a good gaming headset, a great one needs a great headset. The G4ME Zero from Sennheiser is one such candidate. It’s an exceptionally well-built set with Sennheiser’s trademark styling. The sound signature has been optimised for gaming and it shows, or rather, it’s audible. This is by no means an audiophile grade set, neither is it one that you’ll want to use for watching movies or listening to music; this is a set with only one objective in mind and that is gaming. It’s a wired set, but the cables are very long and the mic bears special mention for its quality and performance. We have encountered a couple of sets that might improve on this in some areas, but as a single package, nothing beats the G4ME Zero.

Monitor :- BenQ BL3200PT 32” The ultimate PC needs the ultimate display and the BenQ BL3200PT serves us just fine in that regard. A gorgeous 32” VA panel pumps out a resolution of 2560×1440 with 100% sRGB support. We would have loved to pair a 4K monitor with our monster of a rig, but ill luck let us down. The only 4K monitor in the country that was available to us developed some sort of problem and failed. Regardless, the BL3200 is by no means a poor substitute. It’s literally the very best monitor we’ve ever tested and while VA panels do, natively, sport low refresh rates, the visual fidelity of the monitor more than makes up for it. Given the four GPUs we stuffed into this system, pushing pixels was obviously not going to be an issue here. Games and movies seem to provide an entirely different experience on this monitor, a by-product of the immersive nature of a 32” screen at 3 feet, and the 2K resolution.

CPU Cooler :- NZXT Kraken X60 It won’t ever be acceptable to use anything other than liquid cooling to cool the Intel Core i7 4960x on our Ultimate PC and so we unleashed the Kraken on its arse, which makes sense owing to the fact that we had to cool a CPU that had a TDP of over 130 Watts. With a 280mm radiator, the Kraken x60 sat right inside the top mounting area of the case. A total of four silent fans were selected and mounted in a push-pull configuration to carry the hot air from the radiator. When we finally had our system up and running, we recorded an overall CPU idle temperature of 21°C at an ambient room temperature of 20°C which was nothing short of astounding for an all-in-one liquid cooler. The Kraken still held itself well when we stress-tested the CPU by running loops of Prime95 torture test and the 4960x hardly crossed a maximum load temperature of 52°C. Using the Kraken X60 meant that we could still have some headroom for future overclocking endeavours. Which you’ll read about very soon. Online.

SSDs :- SanDisk Extreme II 240GB x 4 When someone drops four high-performance SSDs into your lap to do what you want with, you nonchalantly flip them aside and continue to play WoT. Once that person leaves however, you drop everything and slap them into the Ultimate Rig and set ‘em all up in RAID 0 with all the excitement and energy of a kid discovering Half-Life 3 under his pillow in the morning. Owing to the limitations of the board, we had to set two on SATA3 and the other two on SATA2, but it couldn’t be helped. These drives also served as our primary storage because, well, why the hell not? The Extreme II uses Marvell’s – Monet 88SS9187 controller with 256MB DDR3-1600 DRAM onboard. We saw the SanDisk Extreme II RAID 0 SATA3 pair getting read and write sequential data transfer speeds of 907.46 MB/s and 822.70 MB/s respectively.

Case :- Corsair Obsidian 900D An epic PC without an epic case is just a sad PC. The epic case for the Ultimate PC had to be the Obsidian 900D. A bottomless pit of a case, this one just swallows components whole and never spits them back out. We spent a night camped inside as we sat and assembled the components, setting up a hammock between the hard-drive bay and the back panel. With a case this large, assembly and cable management was never going to be an issue and it wasn’t. If anything, some of the cables turned out to be too short to circumnavigate the girth of this case. The 900D is capable of accommodating a 480mm radiator at the top, another at the bottom, a 240mm radiator at the side and bottom again, a 140mm radiator at the rear and a 360mm radiator on the front. Whew! We can breathe again. We only needed a 280mm radiator however, and we mounted that on the top. The 900D can, of course, accommodate two PSUs, which was ideal.

There was so much space left in the case even after we finished assembling the rig that it actually seemed empty, which is saying something. And yes, we put in 13 fans, which incidintellay (but definitely not intentionally) is a nod to the 13 years that Digit’s been alive and kicking. Could we have gone with another case? Yes. Would we? No. The amount room this case offered to play around was simply staggering. We would have loved to permanently setup residence in that case, but it was, unfortunately, too drafty for health. Too bad. We could have had so much fun.

PCIe SSD :- OCZ Z-Drive R4 CM88 1.6TB After being blown away by the benchmark scores that we were seeing with this build, we decided that we weren’t blown away enough and that an OCZ Z-Drive R4 that costs as much as a mid-size sedan was a more sensible option. There are few instances in a mortal’s life when one sees something as powerful as the OCZ Z-Drive R4. Think of this drive as the Pagani Zonda of the computer world, which is also proportionately as expensive and as powerful as a high-end PC in itself. It costs just under `9,90,000 and no, it isn’t diamond studded or gold plated but is in fact, coated with something more precious, 8 x SF-2282 (SandForce) controllers and it also uses two PCBs to accommodate all those controllers. With so many controllers available, the drive has a total of 128 Intel 25nm MLC NAND devices on it. Since we don’t want to bore you with more specifications, take a brief look at its performance. We assure you that you’ll never see such scores again.

Not for a long time yet. Exhibit A: Crystal Disk Mark 0xFill Sequential Read speed: 1252 MB/s; Sequential Write Speed: 1731 MB/s. Exhibit B: AS SSD overall benchmark score: 3530; Sequential Read speed: 2419.69 MB/s with an access time of 0.063 ms; Sequential Write speed of 1847.16 MB/s with an access time of 0.161 ms. The results were synonymous with real world tests too. We recorded read and write speeds of 962 MB/s and 1410 MB/s respectively for a sequential file transfer of 8GB (that’s 8 seconds for an 8GB file by the way). Assorted file read speeds were also equally crazy. We didn’t have any relative performance numbers to quantify the result because we never tested something this fast. This is what happens when you pair an enterprise grade component with a consumer grade ultra high-end PC. On a more practical note, you really don’t need this SSD for any possible home usage scenario. But who cares? This is the Ultimate PC and it needs the ultimate components. Nothing more, nothing less.

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