Corsair Workstation Extreme Build Log: Chapter 1

By Mike Clements, on September 13, 2011

It goes without saying that some system builds are more fun than others. This is especially true when I know that I am going to get to do some extensive “testing” with it when I’m done as opposed to shipping it off to a tradeshow or LAN party. This build log is certainly no exception and may well be the most fun rig I have built since I’ve been employed here at Corsair. I built it to be a strong workstation, but I expect my testing to show that it will be excellent for gaming and multimedia also.

My plan is to evaluate this PC over several blog posts to show a variety of usage scenarios. So, while it won't all be gaming and pure fun, we should get to see some excellent performance numbers posted with some commonly used applications and tools. I've started here with the component selection and finished this post with a couple of benchmarks and screenshots to get the ball rolling.

We have released some exciting new products over the past 12 months and I selected the best of the best for this build. Due to the amount of storage I wanted to use and CPU cooler I selected, the Obsidian Series® 800D PC computer case was my best case option.




I have been very interested in testing the new Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs so I chose the ASUS® Maximus Extreme IV Extreme-Z motherboard, and coupled it  with an Intel® Core™ i7 2600K CPU.




Since I called this system a workstation I decided on 16GB of the newest Dominator® GT DDR3 memory upgrade kit, the CMGTX7. The black spreaders topped with red fins look awesome on the red and black MOBO.




The Hydro Series™ H100 CPU cooler is our first CPU cooler with a 2x120mm fan form factor radiator. That made it the most logical choice for this system. I also decided to add two additional fans, for a total of four, which easily fit into the top of the 800D. I set the fans up in a push-pull configuration, exhausting out the top of the case. If you would like to see how to install the H100, we made a short video that will show you exactly that.




ASUS was kind enough to send over a killer GPU, the GTX580 Direct CU II. This should definitely be up to the task of any application or games testing I decide to incorporate.




I am also interested in seeing how a secondary GPU will perform utilizing it as a PhysX and CUDA processor. The GTX280 from EVGA should do nicely.




A system like this would not be complete without an SSD or 2. The OS is installed on a RAID 0 array utilizing two Force Series™ GT 120GB SSDs.




The optical drive is an ASUS BW-12B1LT Blu-ray drive. It’s a Blu-ray burner loaded with features.




For the large data storage tasks, I could not resist going RAID 0 again and I chose two Hitachi Deskstar 5300 HDDs. 4TB of local storage should do nicely until it's time to move data to the server.




Obviously, a system like this will need a big rock solid PSU to handle the power demands under full load. The Professional Series™ Gold AX1200 PSU certainly fills this bill.




For the initial testing and fun, I’ll be using a Gaming Audio Series™ HS1A gaming headset utilizing the built-in sound on the MOBO. These things sound great! Eventually, for some room filling sound, I’ll add a set of SP2500 2.1 pc speakers.




I couldn't resist doing some initial testing for fun. My first task was to perform a Steam restoration from my last backup. The backup size was just under 28GB and the entire task took under 30 minutes. This is far faster than downloading everything again after a clean install of the OS and Steam. We recently published a How-To article on how-to do this exact task in our blog.

You also may have missed another post I did on a gaming based build back in February of 2011. It was a great build and I wanted to see how this new Z68 + Core i7 2600K combo would fare against the OCed results of the X58 + OCed Core i7 950 combo. Here is a look at the stock CPU-Z screenshot for the current build:




For my initial multimedia test, I decided to rely on a benchmark I've used many times over on various builds; Auto Gordian Knot version 2.55. I like repeatable tests like this, as it's easy to do “apples vs apples” comparisons between different builds and it’s a very realistic benchmark. Once again I ripped my favorite pirate movie, Yellowbeard, and encoded it with AGK. The results were impressive for this machine at stock speeds. In fact it was a better time then the OC'ed Core i7 950 result I achieved back in February by a full 26 seconds!




Another fun aspect of this build, is that in addition to the OC benchmarking, I’ll be doing some testing that I have not previously done in the past. Please check back with us for follow up results over the coming weeks!