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Building a Threadripper system...

For some time I have been feeling limited by my existing computer system and I have finally gathered the considerable amount of money required to fund a new system based on the second generation Threadripper CPUs. This system was eventually built in June 2019 and I have written up the build process on this page as both a reminder to myself of the process that I went through to accomplish my goal and hopefully also to produce a document that will be useful to other amateur computer builders. I have enjoyed the entire process immensely and I am now profiting from the amazing power of an almost leading edge consumer computer system from mid 2019. And it looks like 3rd generation Threadripper may not be coming out in 2019 after all so this makes my build especially sweet!

Selecting the components...

It is always a mistake to look for too much advice about building a new system as you will invariably get contradictory advice. So my strategy has been to follow advice from a couple of experts who have genuinely gained my respect and then more importantly to form my own opinions and then act on these opinions with conviction. This process allowed the creation and purchase of the following component list. These purchases were funded both by savings over quite some time as well as the sale of older computer equipment on EBay:

It was an exciting time to be even planning such a build and I am confident that the completed build will easily cater for my computing needs of the next 4-5 years. And then the plan will be to ruthlessly sell it off and start the process again. So June 2024 there will be an old Threadripper CPU for sale on EBay!

Assembling the Threadripper build...

There is little point in me writing up great details of my own build process as both part selection and build technique have been borrowed heavily from a great YouTube clip. Have a look there to see a real professional at work! However I will add a few notes of interest here where I encountered difficulties or made a few changes:

  1. Thermal paste: I removed the thermal paste that came with the Corsair AIO and applied my own Artic Silver Thermal Compound. After a great deal of thought I applied a larger than normal blob right on the 'Z' of Ryzen. Too much debate on thermal compound online but I have made what I believe is a well considered decision and I will replace this paste in 12 months time.
  2. AIO Athleticism: A small grumble at Corsair which I can see mirrored on a few forums, it requires some considerable work to get the Corsair logo on the radiator head upright when the radiator is mounted at the front of the case. Thanks goodness there is the ability to swivel the hoses near the radiator head but design could be improved here for sure. Also I could have missed it but where are the arrows that indicate fan air flow direction for the rookie builder?
  3. AIO Connections: There is some controversy as to where the pump and fan connections to the motherboard should actually go. I decided to follow the Corsair manual and I have plugged the radiator head connector into the motherboard CPU fan connection and the radiator fans directly to the shrouded connectors coming off the radiator head. The other choice would be to connect the radiator head connector to the dedicated Pump motherboard connection and the radiator fans directly to the motherboard. I will watch this one but I suspect it actually makes little to no difference.
  4. Xpander-Aero M.2 PCIe card: So more of a slight note of bewilderment than an actual issue that I have encountered during this build. This being the bundling of a very nice M.2 drive extension PCI card with the motherboard. Drive possibilities with the Corsair 500D and the MSI - MEG X399 Creation combination are already 2 mechanical SATA HDDs, 3 SSD drives and 5 M.2 drives. Enough for my needs so I have this nice PCI card still wrapped in plastic and wondering what I will do with it? (Mind you it looks like installation of this card requires access to a PCI power connector at the base of the motherboard which is actually blocked by the PSU shroud in the Corsair 500D.) I would have been happier with a couple of tubes of grizzly thermal paste...
  5. Stupid things I did... Since I took my time with this build there were really only two stupid things that I did, both of which I can now laugh at. Firstly I have never installed an SSD and I will not confess the amount of time I spent trying to mount the SSD inside the nice mounting device on the back of the motherboard until I finally realised that it actually goes on the outside! The next gem was me getting prepared to return the monitor as DOA until I realised that there was an on / off toggle switch craftily concealed at the base of the monitor. Luckily only 2 stupid things on an otherwise fairly straightforward build.

Apart from the small quibbles above the Threadripper build went very well with a first time successful POST and boot to BIOS. The only alteration I made initially to the BIOS was to load an XMP Profile to get the maximum RAM speed rather than the 2100 speed that came out of the box. Happy to turn that off if there is any instability but I should be right having purchased decent RAM and a more than decent Motherboard. Installation of Slackware -current was also relatively pain free although it took a little while to achieve a non-UEFI installation from USB. To return my Slackware installation to its full strength tends to take a week or two of tinkering.

I will not formally benchmark this build as others with more wisdom than me have already done this with similar builds. The general result has always been: Threadripper builds are fast! The build achieved successful POST on June 8th 2019 so I will spend the next few weeks assembling some sample compile times of 'heavy' applications such as QT5 and Wine as well as some test video encodes using FFmpeg and 'standard' easily downloadable media files. It will also be interesting to look at the cooling capacity of the 360 AIO during all of this. More fun to come by the look of it!

In conclusion...

So finally the end of this build process, a process that was carefully planned for over a 6 month period. Some of the joy in the process has been the need to save a substantial amount of money and in this process I rationalised the computer equipment I have and I now have a clearer vision of what I actually need. Goodbye to all optical drives, goodbye to the 'spare parts' cupboard, goodbye to abcde, goodbye to a lot of areas of computing that were formerly my passion and welcome to a more exact focus on what I want to accomplish now in the computer world. And now to get started on exactly that!

Please feel free to contact me with any errors of fact that you have found on this page, any errors of opinion will probably remain uncorrected. In the meantime I am having a great time mucking around with computer hardware, what about you?