THE GAMING RIG

corsair-obsidian-750d-airflow-edition

The Corsair Obsidian 750D has proved itself to be a great air cooled solution for gaming enthusiasts. The rig has been very cool in operation. Cooler hardware tends to last much longer affording more time to scrape up funds for upgrades rather than constantly replacing damaged parts. Installing fans pay for themselves with better performance. Warm machines cannot use CPU & GPU boost effectively as the thermal throttle limits max clock rates.

ChassisCorsair Obsidian 750D Airflow Edition
PSUCorsair AX1600i
MotherboardMSI X570-A PRO
CPUAMD Ryzen R5 3600
CPU CoolerCorsair H115i PRO RGB
MemoryG.Skill Flare X DDR4-3200 4x8GB 16-18-18-39
System StorageSamsung 980 PRO 2TB (See below)
Graphics HardwareEVGA RTX 2080 Black Edition
LCD DisplayLG 27UL500-W
MouseZelotes F15 Wireless Gaming Mouse
Digitizing TableWacom Graphire CTE-630BT
KeyboardCorsair K55 RGB
ControllerXbox Carbon Black
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 11 Professional x64
NetworkComFast AX210
MSI-X570-A-PRO-motherboard

The Corsair Obsidian 750D Airflow Edition is well made and very reliable. Adding a third cage fits the chassis perfectly with the DVD bay holding the top in place. Clearly the design is well considered.

The disk cages are about the same thickness as a front mounted water cooler and trying various video cards all fit fine. Triple fan video cards are longer than the older dual fan cards which makes then closer to 12 inches long.

The old R9 Fury is a triple fan card that has more shader than the RTX 2080 but the clock speed is only half as fast. Some recent Radeon cards are now triple fan and recent GeForce cards are also triple fan. The larger 750D handles large video cards easily.

The Cooler Master HAF 932 still is a fine piece of hardware. The chassis has served for many years and while it will be refurbished, the 750D has now taken over. The massive fans in the HAF 932 are still the best there ever was for air cooling with massive 200mm fans. The 750D however has strength in water cooling.

MOTHERBOARDS

MSI motherboards have been relatively reliable. Lower cost Asus boards have not survived nearly as well as MSI motherboards. Socket, 5, 7, 939, AM2, AM3 and now AM4 have been in use.

The MSI X570-A PRO has lasted for over 24 months in service which is not bad considering the average life of motherboards in the studio. MSI seems to be excellent quality and Hardcore Games recommends them as a safe choice.

AMD went through several generations of socked AM4. The Obsidian 750D is spacious enough to allow for an easy motherboard change.

VIDEO CARDS

The range of video cards available varies over time with procurements made when digital coin values collapse. Old cards are bought for 10-25 cents on the dollar which saves the studio a fortune. Other video cards are procured privately.

EVGA RTX 2080 Black Edition large

Video cards have accumulated. This is driven by the annual marketing by AMD and nVidia selling new cards every fall. Now that GDDR6 is ramping up, new cards are coming to market now supporting it.

Video cards from AMD have settled on 64 shaders per compute unit (CU). So cards like the 28nm R9 Fury with 56 CU have substantial shader counts. The RX 480 has 36 CU but it is 14nm so it uses less power and has a faster clock speed. Still the R9 Fury did not really live up to its potential, and it’s not all that clear why. The GCN 3 archiver is fairly robust so 56 CU should be very strong.

The EVGA RTX 2080 is an extraordinarily powerful video card when it was new. With 2944 CUDA it has enough performance to make games playable at 3840×2160, NVIDIA RTX Ampere and RTX Lovelace are options to consider should games become too demanding. RTX Hopper has been delayed. Many games push the RTX 2080 hard at 3840×2160 suggesting a more powerful card would resolve the pressure.

More recent cards are now pushing power loads above 400W which really drives the need for extreme cooling in addition to power supplies.

The Outer Worlds is relatively demanding with the open world design but the VRAM question suggests that 8GB can bump to 12GB or 16GB but the real beef needed is simply more CUDA cores.

3rd-gen-r5-series-processors

THE CPU

The AMD Ryzen processors are very powerful and they can handle even elite graphics cards. The R5 3600 with 6 cores and 12 threads is quite adequate for handling even the most demanding games. The R5 3600 easily reaches 4.2+ GHz when the workload is high.

The AM4 platform has 48-bit address lines which supports up to 256TB of address space. Early on Microsoft has supported memory mapped files which could potentially be on a large scale file system.

The Corsair H115i is a 280mm class water cooler for personal computers. The water cooler has a thermal load of 300W which far above the most demanding processors sold in the market. AMD Zen 2 processors are 65W and 105W. Some recent Intel processors are 125W.

Water cooling is too expensive for mainstream consumers. Prices are high due to patent licensing fees and ongoing litigation.

MEMORY

The 32GB of DDR4-3200 is far above the mainstream which is still largely using 8GB. The goal with more RAM is to handle the most demanding modern games which are increasingly taking advantage of resources. The X570 can support 128GB maximum but in practice 32GB is abundant.

Only very recently have games wanted more than 8GB of RAM. Some titles are now recommending 12GB or16GB of RAM. One of the drivers of recommending more RAM is the Xbox X|S and PS5 which both have 16GB. The PC video card has its own storage which is above and beyond main memory.

STORAGE

The 750D has room for 9 hard disks and 3 DVD bays. There is a 4 disk bays for 2½” SSDs raising the capacity to 13 disks/SSD. AMD is know to support at least 10 SATA ports but usually only 6 are provided. SATA cards are widely available for supporting more storage at the expense of a PCIe slot. 16-port controllers are inexpensive.

The Samsung 980 PRO is PCIe 4.0 and it is fast enough to saturate the slot. Samsung was late to deliver the 2TB capacity. Boot times with the 980 PRO are less than 20 seconds from cold start. Benchmarks show the Samsung 980 PRO to be the most popular NVMe SSD today.

seagate-baracuda-cumpute-8tb
Estimated MTBF is greater than139,255 hours
Average operating hours15,231 hours
Annual Failure Rate6.10%
Average operating (years)1.74 years

The old Intel 665p SSD is PCIe 3.0 based which is the same as the old 660p SSD. The existing 2048 GB SSD has demonstrated its value. Larger capacity SSD products are inevitable as the prices fall for existing products. Hard disk survival has been less of a problem as well. The NVMe SSD has revolutionized the performance of gaming. Loading Windows is substantially faster and game performance is improved as well. This is the reason consoles have jumped onboard too.

CAGE LOCATIONDISK INSTALLED
M.2 Slot 1Samsung 980 PRO 2TB
M.2 Slot 2Intel 665p 2TB
Cage 1: ADT01ACA300
Cage 1: BST8000DM004
Cage 1: CST8000DM004
Cage 2: AST8000DM004
Cage 2: BST8000DM004
Cage 2: CST4000DM004
Cage 3: AST4000DM004
Cage 3: BST2000DM006
Cage 3: CWD15EADS

The Corsair Obsidian 750D affords more disks than the venerable old Cooler Master HAF 932. The top most cages actually locks to the DVD bay cage to secure them leaving room galore for video cards galore. Larger capacity disks have been accumulated and in time even larger disks will come down in price.

Still for several years the studio made do with several comparatively small hard disks. Now with substantially larger disks the pressure on storage is reduced. The old period of 500GB disks were less problematic as games were not as larger as they are now. The Seagate ST3000DM001 was reputed to have a high failure rate but the one disk in the studio has survived. The Toshiba DT01ACA300 has less use on it but the limited capacity has still been viable.

PERIPHERALS

The Fenvi AX200 WiFi card provides network access. With an extended reach antenna, the AX210 can be faster than the 1000BASE-T Ethernet when connected to a modern 802.11ax access point that supports the wider 160 MHz channels. The Bluetooth affords using a mobile phone to secure the machine when out of the office.

A USB front panel box affords USB-C on the front panel. The rear I/O on the X570-A PRO has one USB-C port as well. This affords the opportunity for new peripherals as time progresses. USB-C affords higher speeds which will allow for new opportunities for higher performance media etc. USB-C graphics are used by Apple users for some applications.

Currently there is an LG WH16NS60 BD drives installed in the machine. The drive came with Cyberlink PowerDVD to play media. The WH16NS60 is 4K UHD capable allowing 4K UHD BD media to be played. Leawo has a free BD player software player for those who do not have Cyberlink available.

The old bluetooth Wacom Graphire CTE-630BT is works well with Corel Painter, the pressure sensitive stylus is handy for digital editing. Windows 10 Ink Workspace also supports the stylus. Other graphics programs vary with support for a digital stylus.


THE PSU

Never cut corners on power supplies. The old HX1000i was swapped out for the AX1600i. The AX1600i the current flagship model PSU which is far more expensive. It justifies itself with incredible 80 Plus titanium efficiency. The AX1600i shows 92% to 93% when the machine is at idle and using maybe 100W of power. It saves maybe 4% over the old PSU which will pay for itself over time. Cheap bronze rated power supplies waste more energy so their true cost is higher in the face of titanium class power supplies.

Looking at the clock speed of the RTX 2080 at 1860 MHz which is substantially above the standard boost of 1710 MHz. This is proof that video cards can draw extreme amounts of power when the workload demands it. The card’s power récurremment are 215W at standard clock speed with 240W at 1710 MHz so the higher clock speed can push the power draw to 275W or even more. All that holds the RTX 2080 back is the efficiency of the chassis cooling which demonstrated it clearly with the high clock speeds.

The AX1600i has enough 12V connections to handle dual EPS12V connectors along with pair of dual 8-pin video cards and the odd video card wants triple 8-pin PCIe power cables. Corsair has pigtail PCIe cables and testing them with demanding video cards show they work fine up to 300W of power. The AX1600i has 10 EPS12V/PCIe cable connectors to support demanding systems easily. Boards with an ATX12V connector can ignore it as the EPS12V power is quite adequate. Some elite motherboards have dual EPS12V connectors to power the slots.

The 1600W capacity means that dual cards are not a problem. Workstation cards can be demanding when rendering scenes for movies on the other hand are more transient and demand can vary by 70% or more. Having a larger reserve of power means that the turbo features are not starving. Some workstation cards like the Radeon Pro Duo Games are dual GPU cards. Dual GPU cards tend to be extremely demanding.

With an abundance of peripheral power connections it affords a power cable for each disk cage easily. Another power cable runs the H115i and the Commander Pro which also runs the fans. The front USB boxes and the BD drive also have their own cable so that charging ports are well supplied. By eliminating extension cables, power losses are reduced considerably. The motherboard has power monitoring and so does the Commander Pro so this affords a detailed look at power. An extension to the Commander Pro showed a 15% loss in voltage which motivated a separate circuit.

Less expensive power supplies have fewer peripheral and PCIe power connectors. Chassis like the Carbide SPEC-1 have a 4 disk cage so one power cable handles it fine. The larger Obsidian 750D simply needs more cables.

LG 27UL500-W small

THE LCD AND MEDIA

The LG 27UL500-W is a high quality IPS HDR10 display. This allows for far better screenshots for the game reviews as well as for sharing on social media.

The LG panel with 3840×2160 resolution needs all the CU I can afford. The panel supports the HDR10 standard introduced with Windows 10 version 1909. HDR10 is what used to be called deep color 10 years ago with expensive professional class monitors. Essentially IPS is able to produce over 1 billion colors easily so 10-bit RGB is practical and now this is much more affordable as LG has done wonders for reducing the costs.

The LG panel has excellent color quality. Whether its from a mobile device or a professional studio, imagines are all excelled. Editing images is easily done with lots of pixels to spare when removing a fold from a damaged photograph.

The LD BD drive handles CD, DVD and BD media easily.

At present 4K BD discs are priced much higher than conventional FullHD BD media, Over time 4K media prices should soften as prices for televisions continue to fall and competition from DVD and BD media. Further down the road when 8K televisions become more affordable there will likely be an 8K variant of the optical disk.