These are the voyages of the starship capDauntless…

My how time flies. It feels like just yesterday that, oh , who am I kidding? Tantalus is old. Old as dirt. I’ve been watching the introduction of new Ryzen CPUs and Radeon GPUs over and over again since I built Tantalus and have gotten to the point that, while I technically don’t need anything more to power my setup, I wanted a new flagship system.

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The full specs of Tantalus:

  • Motherboard: MSI X370 Xpower Gaming Titanium
  • CPU: Ryzen 7 1700 (OC’d to 3.6GHz)
  • CPU Cooler: Corsair H110i AIO (using Noctua industrial fans)
  • Memory: Team Night Hawk 32GB 3200MHz (4x8GB) @ 2933MHz
  • GPU: MSI GTX 1070 Ti Gaming Titanium (OC’d to 1760MHZ)
  • Storage: Samsung 850 EVO 250GB SATA SSD & Western Digital Blue 1TB HDD
  • Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA G3 750W Gold
  • Case: Phanteks Enthoo Pro SE

Tantalus has gone through a couple cases over time including the InWin 303 (a great case to build in while a bit goofy in design – still the best tempered glass hinge on the market) and the Phanteks P400s (also a great case to build in). Throughout all of that The hardware has basically remained the same barring the upgrade to the MSI GTX 1070 Ti. Before that I was running twin Radeon RX 480 8GB models in crossfire. With the death of crossfire it was time to find a better single solution. MSI’s GTX 1070 Ti Gaming Titanium fit the bill nicely as it matched my motherboard’s colour. This is also the first time I ever used an Nvidia graphics card in any main system of mine since the mid 2000s when I had an ASUS EN8600GT with 512GB of on board memory.

An interesting aspect to this build is I am incorporating a second system into the main build replacing ZPM at the same time. The new system while now AMD based will be quite a bit less powerful than the system it is replacing. And that’s OK, ZPM has always been overkill and was built to say I could do it. And to this day I think it’s the nicest build I have ever done. Here’s it’s specs:

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ZPM

  • Motherboard: ASUS Z290-I
  • CPU: Intel i3-8350K @ 4.7GHz
  • CPU Cooler: Corsair H115 Pro
  • Memory: G.Skill TridentZ RGB 16GB (2x8GB) @ 3000MHz
  • GPU: ASUS RX 480 8GB AMD Reference Card
  • Storage: Samsung 850 EVO 250GB SATA SSD & Seagate Momentus 1TB 5400 RPM HDD
  • Power Supply: Seasonic M12II 520W Bronze
  • Case: Phanteks Enthoo Evolve ITX TG

So yeah, ZPM really isn’t a slouch either and at the resolutions I play at really more than enough. Tantalus was already overkill. 

But having the hardware that is just enough to push what I have is not the goal of a flagship. A flagship should have all the bells and whistles. It should do extremely well at benchmarking for no other reason than being able to push out high numbers than the weaklings that scored below. It should show my pride at being part of the PC MASTER RACE! 

Ok lets bring it back down to earth, a little. When I got my tax return this year I decided to plunge in and buy the hardware for pr0metheus. In fact months beforehand I procured a Metallic Gear NEO Qube ATX Mid Tower case on sale from Newegg. Also, just before power supplies went nuts in price and out of stock on the higher end I picked up a Phanteks Revolt X 1000W power supply specifically designed with this case in mind. 

You see, the Metallic Gear NEO Qube not only has room for a full ATX system in the main compartment but around behind it has room for a mini-ITX system as well. This case in tandem with the Phanteks Revolt X allows me to connect two systems to the same power supply so I don’t require a second. Brilliant. And this power supply can be trusted as it’s built for Phanteks by Seasonic. They tie for my favourite power supply makers with EVGA.

Now most of you are aware that, as of the writing of this article, there is a huge microchip shortage going on brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. With factories closed for a time initially last year combined with so many people being home for work there is very little supply of CPUs or GPUs or PSUs to go around. This threw a wrench into my plans as I was hoping by the time I could procure parts the shortages would be over. Well, one was sort of over. Best Buy, the week after I got my return suddenly had AMD Ryzen 7 5800X CPUs in stock. Canada Computers did as well but with yet another pending lockdown here in Ontario that was no longer an option because they will only allow you to pick them up in store. Thankfully Best Buy would ship and at MSRP! If it had not been available I was going to buy a Ryzen 7 3700X.

To go with this CPU I decided to go a little boring but practical with a Fractal Design Celsius S36 360 AIO cooler. I went with this as it’s a quiet performer and that they’ve got a fan header built on to the unit instead of taking up headers on my motherboard. No RGB here. But that will be made up for later.

The motherboard was tricky this time around. The premium X570 chipset boards with PCIE gen 4 on board are very expensive for the best of the best. I wanted to stick with MSI but was open to a Gigabyte board if need be. I ultimately landed on the MSI MAG X570 Tomahawk motherboard. I went this way because after reading a lot of reviews out there on MSI’s earlier offerings this was by far their best offering. And at $299 that was really the top end for me this time around. The board has all I need and more. In fact it’ll never see the use of it’s wifi and probably none of it’s SATA ports either.

Memory this time around was something I was willing to sacrifice a little on. The Team memory I had bought for Tantalus replaced the G.Skill TridentZ RGB memory that is now in ZPM. I replaced it because the G.Skill memory never ran at 3000MHz and it eventually went buggy on me. The Team memory did better even though I never got the 3200MHz that so many other Ryzen owners said they were able to achieve. This time I went with ADATA’s XPG Spectrix D60G 3200MHz sticks. These have received relatively good reviews. For the price and features I thought I might as well give them a try. If they don’t work out I will swap in my old Team sticks. They look like they will be nice inside the case with all the extra RGB they have.

Next we have storage. I decided for the first time in any build I’ve done with all PCIE NVME SSDs. No more cords coming off the motherboard. Both my boot drive and storage drive will be fast SSDs. This should make for a very speedy upgrade over Tantalus. I went with 500GB and 1TB Sabrent Rocket NVME SSDs. These have gotten incredible reviews and a great value considering they perform nearly as well as Samsung’s offerings for quite lower price.

For fans in this case, as it does not come with any, I went with some interesting ones I found on Amazon. I wanted to limit the amount of cables that were going to my motherboard so I originally wanted some of those modular LianLi fans but I’m convinced they only sent those to reviewers and never sold them on the market. I’ve never seen they in stock once. So I found two offerings of 360 all-one-piece fans. One version from Cooler Master and one version from a company called Asiahorse. I swear I’ve heard of Asiahorse before but I don’t know where. I was more comfortable going with Cooler Master but they fans in the all-one-piece looked like their cheaper offerings with RGB LEDs in the centre. Their cheaper fans really make a lot of noise so I decided to go with the Asiahorse setup. Both of these offered one cable for PWM and one cable for ARGB. The Asiahorse ones, as you may imagine, were cheaper than the Cooler Master ones. They also had a lot more addressable RGB sections rather than just a few on the centre fans like the Cooler Master. I will review the performance of these fans in the benchmark article to come.

Finally we land at the GPU. Yes I purposefully left this to the very end because it has an interesting story. Right now, as I mentioned earlier, there is a massive chip shortage happening right now and Nvidia and AMD have been having a hell of a time producing and getting cards out to the masses. And when they do they are picked up faster than most can click “Add to Cart”. Well just before I ordered all the parts for pr0metheus AMD decided to launch their new Radeon RX 6700XT. This was the card I was looking forward to the whole time. Well actually I wanted a RX 6800 but I didn’t even have a chance to load a website to buy one of them. Dan and I both knew they were going to be listed at 9AM that morning and we both waited for that time to flip around on Newegg. 9AM came and all the 6700XTs were listed as out of stock and one was listed at double it’s MSRP. We both concluded at that time that we were both not getting a new graphics card for a very long time. Which is doubly sad for Dan as he bought a 1660 Super as an interim card hoping to get a RTX 3070 or 3060. 

So I settled with moving my GTX 1070 Ti into pr0metheus. I wasn’t really excited about this as I wanted pr0metheus to be a force to be reckoned with or at least a showcase of what current tech could do (within a reasonable budget of course).

Low and behold, a few weeks ago AMD sent out an email to all Team Red members announcing that they would be selling a limited amount of Radeon RX 3800XT Midnight Editions on AMD’s store directly at MSRP. I saw this email about 9:15AM the next morning. That was FIFTEEN MINUTES after they had been put up for sale. Well I pulled over (I am a responsible truck driver) and hit the link. There was another link to check for availability. HOLY COW THERE’S A CARD AVAILABLE! Let’s be clear, the website didn’t say that. I did. After a refresh on the page because it froze I was able to add it to my cart. I put in my Paypal info and VOILA! $930 Canadian Loonies later I was the proud owner of a receipt that said for those $930 Canadian Loonies I would receive a brand new, limited edition, Midnight Edition, Radeon RX 3800XT. I can’t type here what I yelled loudly over and over again to myself in the cab of my truck as there may be sensitive eyes reading this. Suffice to say, I was just a teensie bit excited. Thanks Team Red!

As I write this article I still haven’t seen the card as I have been on the road but I can’t wait to do some benchmarking with it and finally some gaming. In fact Dan has been over to my place and claims he has stolen it for himself. Good luck powering that with your wimpy power supply, friend.

It should also be noted that even at MSRP I wasn’t planning on spending that much on a GPU. It is astounding to me how much even the MSRPs of new graphics cards considering back in the day my 8600GT, which was not a slouch of a card, was only $120 Canadian Loonies. Take that and both my RX 480s were both $349 each. Then my GTX 1070 ti (granted it was a special edition of the card) was $649 Canadian Loonies before taxes. This card was a whopping $820 before taxes. That’s a lot of moolah. That said I should see anywhere from a 65% to 100% performance improvement along with ray tracing to boot. Maybe it’ll be worth it.

Worth it indeed. I will have some benchmarks comparing Tantalus to pr0metheus soon. Yes it won’t be apples to apples but it will give an idea on the performance improvement between generations.

I should also mention the hardware going into the mini-itx system as well. I have had these parts on hand for a long time as I had a plan for them to go into an old Playstation 2 case. This didn’t happen but I still had the hardware. The goal of this system is to have all the functionality I had before, with Tantalus and ZPM, for potential podcasting and streaming with two systems but in one to lower the footprint in my room.

The motherboard is the Gigabyte B450 I Aorus Pro Wifi. It’s a really nice board with a lot of features. Dan is using this in his system now and he has been pretty happy with it. It will be my second Gigabyte board and I am looking forward to working with it.

Powering the system is the ever elusive Athlon 200GE. This CPU was in and out of stock so quickly that when I saw it in stock one day I picked it up. I don’t remember what I paid for it now but it was relatively cheap, especially compared to the current market. The integrated graphics are imperative here as, while there is room for a GPU in the ITX chamber of the Metallic Gear NEO Qube it has to be low-profile. I had thought about putting my Ryzen 7 1700 from Tantalus in this system but without integrated graphics it just wasn’t going to happen. Even GTX 1650s are going for ridiculous prices right now.

Cooling the Athlon 200GE is the Noctua NH-L9a AM4 cooler. Nothing fancy and that awful Noctua cooler colour won’t be seen so it doesn’t bother me. Quiet is the name of the game here. I would have gotten another Cryorig cooler but they seem to have dropped off the face of the earth for us here in Canada.

Also in this system is some G.Skill Flare X 3200MHz DDR4 memory. I picked up these back in the day as to make setting up the system a breeze. I didn’t want to fight with getting the memory overclocked and considering this memory is on the approved memory list for this motherboard I expect it should overclock to 3200MHz easily.

Finally for storage I have an ADATA SU800 256GB M.2 SSD. This is just a simple SATA SSD as again, this system does not need to be on the bleeding edge. I also went the way of the M.2 drive in this case to reduce the amount of cables in the system. 

Overall I am looking forward to getting this system put together. Really it’s just time off work I need to get it put together. I am really excited to share this with you guys once it’s all put together.