Amethyst finally gets an upgrade

Build Log:

Wow it’s been a while since I’ve written on Amethyst. But there really hasn’t been much in the way of changes to it aside from a platform upgrade about 18 months ago. Swapping out the 6-core/12-thread i7-5820k to the 12-core/24-thread Ryzen 3900X.

I had intended on upgrading her to a 3000-series card not long after the platform upgrade, but… yeah. We all know what happened.

Now it’s 2022.

Thanks to the scalping, miners, etc., it took until April of this year to get an RTX 3080. I was in EVGA’s queue for one, the 10GB XC3 variety specifically (Model No. 10G-P5-3881-KR), along with an RTX 3070 8GB XC3 (Model No. 08G-P5-3755-KL). And around the time my RTX 3070 reservation came through, Micro Center sent an ad email showing they had RTX 3080s in stock. At MSRP. So I jumped on one and canceled my EVGA reservation.

So 5½ years. Mira has been on a GTX 1070 for almost as long.

So why the RTX 3080?

System specifications

Amethyst is my wife’s system, as I’ve mentioned before. And she doesn’t have any 4K or 1440p screens. Her display setup is three 1080p televisions. I’m the one using 4K screens with Mira. Dual, not triple. And primarily for photo editing, though I love the extra real estate.

So with triple 1080p screens, why the RTX 3080? She also streams. And having the extra GPU horsepower and memory (12GB of GDDR6) will help with the video encoding and still give her plenty of room for gaming. And the lower resolution means better quality settings as well.

She also may not have 4K screens now, but the option is there if she decides later to make the jump.

Some changes needed

For now the system has been migrated into a spare chassis – a 4U x 17″ long rack chassis with the lid removed. This is unfortunately necessary. I need to redesign the loop to accommodate the graphics card and its water block.

I’m also going to take this opportunity to paint her chassis, something I first discussed doing quite a few years ago and just never got around to doing. Only the inside of the chassis will be painted, though – my wife specifically said she wants the outside to remain black. The plan, currently, is white with a pearl clear coat, though with some purple accents – e.g. replacing all the screws with purple anodized screws, and probably painting some parts of the interior purple, such as the GPU bracket.

Needing to disassemble the chassis for paint will also give me a chance to rectify the space issue with her reservoir and pump by removing the drive bays. I did install a front intake fan into the drive bays using a fan mount adapter from Mountain Mods. That’ll be replaced with an acrylic or, likely, aluminum flat panel that I’ll just screw or epoxy into place.

There’s another complication as well: her mainboard is PCI-Express Gen 4, and so is the card, but the riser cable on the GPU vertical mount is PCI-Express Gen 3 compatible at most. I don’t want to downgrade the PCI-E version in the BIOS unless I have no choice. So I’ll be replacing the riser cable with a Gen 4 cable.

The graphics card is also the most power-hungry of anything I’ve ever used. It requires three (3) 8-pin power connectors, whereas her GTX 1080 only needed one, like my GTX 1070. Thankfully CableMod makes Corsair Type3 cables and sells them individually so you can get exactly what you need.

Building for longevity

Just a small commentary here.

We’ve had the Corsair Obsidian 750D for over 8 years, and the RM1000 power supply for almost 8 years. How many of us who’ve built PCs in the last 10+ years can say that? Seems especially counterintuitive when looking at the PC building channels on YouTube. New build, new chassis, which seems to warrant a new power supply as well.

That seems to be the norm anymore. And really… that needs to change.

I mean how many PC builders on YouTube stick with the same chassis for longer than… one or a couple years? Seems to be very, very few. I think Linus Sebastian (of Linus Tech Tips) is the only one who’s stuck with the same chassis for any significant period of time. That custom rack chassis he has for his personal build along with something similar for his wife, though he recently changed out his custom chassis for something a little better suited to his needs.

Instead, pick one chassis, paint it if you want, and stay with it for the long haul. Only swap it out if it no longer meets your needs.

I considered proposing that I swap out my wife’s chassis for something… slightly smaller and, likely, full white. But there is no need. And I don’t really foresee moving away from the 750D at all, to be honest, unless mainboard standards completely change. And given ATX has been around since 1995, meaning it’s been in use far longer than the preceding AT form factor standard, I don’t see that happening any time soon either.

The fans and internal hardware will get swapped out as needed. The power supply is already out of warranty but showing no signs of dying, thanks to it being plugged into a UPS, which conditions the power. The front USB ports may lose their utility entirely.

But the chassis itself? Again, unless the ATX standard is completely replaced, it shouldn’t be going anywhere. And there have been attempts to replace the ATX standard, but none have succeeded.

And the Corsair RM1000 has been in the system since later in 2014, when I swapped out her GS800 non-modular power supply with a full modular one when rebuilding her system following the catastrophic water block failure. So over 8 years on the same power supply. 8 years! The warranty on it was only 5 years. And again, it’s showing no signs of dying, most likely due to the UPS.

If you’re building brand new, pick your chassis and power supply first. Get a quality brand power supply with adequate power delivery and room for future expansion. In all actuality, just get an 800+W unit and you should be fine unless what you plan to start with dictates otherwise. 1000W wouldn’t be a bad starting point either.

And on your chassis, make sure to find one that’ll allow for adequate cooling – read and watch reviews to help you with this – that’ll also fit the power supply you want to use. And get a UPS.

Plan your build into a chassis you intend to keep for the long haul and resist the temptation to move it all into a new chassis every year or several years unless your needs change in an unpredictable way.