Description

This is the second of 2 builds I did for a client, my uncle, who is the one who got me into PC building. See the first build in this series here. He commissioned 2 builds from me as overkill workstations (hence the name) and gave me some requirements for each to give me the chance to experiment with parts we hadn't used before (ditto). For this build, the requirements were that it needed to be an all-AMD build, use a micro ATX motherboard and case, and otherwise have enough overkill components that it could be used for a long time. A discrete graphics card was required for this build so it could be used with 3+ monitors and a gigabit LAN port for the fast possible connection to data not stored locally that is critical to work.

The design concept for this build, like the one before it, is a blue and white build as the company logo is light blue, dark blue, and white. I was able to find some cable extensions from FormulaMod (a brand I was previously unfamiliar with) that actually had both blues plus white, which worked out nicely. They're not nearly as stiff as the cables I've used from upHere, but not quite as pliable as the paracord cables I've ordered from Phanteks. The cable combs were pre-applied, but a little loose, so they needed to be placed a bit more thoughtfully so they trained the cable. Both hard drives I used also happened to be blue, black, and white, so I chose to make them visible. The RGB LED elements were set to match, as well, and I think they work quite nicely here.

A solid B450 motherboard was an easy choice since this build will run at stock speeds for stability, and because even stock speeds are plenty fast for the kind of work this machine will be doing. I had seen a bit of positive press about the Steel Legend series of motherboards from ASRock that seemed to pop up around the time a few brands were refreshing B450 motherboards for Ryzen 3000 so they would work out of the box since ASRock and Gigabyte don't have BIOS flash buttons on this chipset. There is a full-sized version of this motherboard, and even an X570 model with the same name and similar design, and I have to say I'm rather partial to it. Having only neutrals on the motherboard and a pattern that's less camo and more fractal makes the design pop without being too aggressive. This board, along with a few other ASRock B450 boards, actually has a USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 2 port on the I/O, which is a nice feature, even though the B450 chipset doesn't allow for a USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 2 header on the actual motherboard for the case. The only thing this board was missing was WiFi and Bluetooth, which was easily solved with an add-in card from ASUS. It works flawlessly, but the absence of a magnet in the base of the antenna was disappointing. I used some Velcro tape, and that sorted it out nicely.

One negative thing I'll say about the motherboard was I did end up with what appeared to be a sample that shouldn't have made it out of QC the first time. The LEDs on the I/O shield were dead, the RAM wouldn't remember its LED settings (and even though I don't love ASRock Polychrome, I couldn't blame it because it worked properly), and most importantly, it wouldn't enable the XMP profile for the RAM. Some dead LEDs aren't the end of the world, but the RAM issue plus the fact that anything electrical not working out of the box gives me a bad feeling led me to return it for a new motherboard that thankfully works perfectly and had no issue enabling XMP for the Team Group T-Force Delta RGB RAM, no problem.

With that segue, I'll mention the RAM, which is 32GB (I did say overkill) of the aforementioned T-Force Delta kit. I got enough of a deal on 2 kits at the time that it wasn't an issue that a 4x8GB kit wasn't available. I've used these before because the performance is solid like in their Vulcan Z kit but the lighting, which is generally subjective, is overall very good for a budget kit. It is actually addressable, which is a good sign, bright, and the plastic diffuser isn't a funky cast like it is on some RAM modules, which makes the RAM not blend in with the rest of the components.

The case was the part of the experiment I decided on before anything else because I had seen many reviews of it and was very interested in trying a case from Cooler Master that actually excited me. The price is excellent, the build quality is light but sturdy, the airflow is so good you can just feel it with your hand, and it's really everything a modern budget PC could need. It wasn't a great challenge to build in, and I didn't even have to remove the HDD cage like I have had too with smaller cases when using the colored cable extensions that I like so much (see the previous build in this series). It's very clean-looking, as well, and fits my desire to build something I would consider a little understated (there aren't even any RGB fans!) but is probably going to blow the mind of whoever is given this to work on. I can honestly say that for those who don't care to spend a lot on a case, are building a first PC, or just want really good airflow, this is a case that does almost everything really well. It's not the most solidly built, or the sexiest, or available without the ODD bay in the mATX NR400 model in the US, but it's a great option. For a case that's extremely well-ventilated, it's not even loud because the fans don't ever kick up under a heavy workload once programmed with your motherboard of choice's fan curve configuration tool.

I mentioned in the last build that I picked a AMD RX 5500XT for the efficiency and because the price was fair at the time. It just so happened that as retailers are working through their RX 580 stock, sometimes the discounts make up for it. This card, which happens to be ASRock's first GPU, was a great deal when I picked it up that made up its tendency to get hotter and use more power than the newer RDNA cards. This won't be gamed on unless the person who gets this machine is sneaky (and I won't snitch), so I figure it ought not to matter too much. It's not too long for the case, it's neutral once it's installed, and it has enough display connections. My only desire would be that it had a proper backplate to hide the PCB, but it's not too obtrusive looking. Not the sexiest card, it's exactly what I needed for a great deal.

Moving onto cooling, I've actually never used any iteration of the venerable Cooler Master Hyper 212 family, and after hearing how loud the included Wraith Prism can get when set to the H fan setting and without a good fan curve, I figured I'd see how this one compared. Happened to catch it on sale plus a rebate, so I got the Black Edition with the RGB fan. The cooler wasn't any more complicated to install on AM4 than any other, the included thermal paste was sufficient for 2 installs (and more) after I had to remove the wonky motherboard I got at first, and the included fan is one of the better "hybrid flow" models CM offers with what feels like a fairly solid ball bearing in there. It also included a mounting bracket for a second fan, which nice for reducing noise more than temperatures. You won't see a ton of extra performance out of a budget cooler when doing this, but it lets it run much quieter, which is equally desirable in a case that's mesh on most sides. I repurposed the included front intake fan for a second fan because it has the same design as the included fan sans LEDs, which doesn't really matter because it can't be seen from any side.

Speaking of fans, the reason I was able to repurpose this fan was that I found an amazing deal on case fans from Arctic. It's not the most exciting, but it's very important to be able to efficiently and effectively cool your computer system, especially one that you want to last. A high end case fan can run you up to about $30 USD at time of writing, but I was able to get a 5-pack of Arctic's P12 fans for about $4 less. These fans are both PWM (4-pin), which means they have the full range of speed control, and PST, which means they are effectively their own fan splitter, so I didn't need a fan hub for this build at all. Arctic also has their F12 fans available in this same bundle, which I considered because they run at a lower max RPM and would be quieter and have a white fan blade, but I figured these would likely never ramp up that high to begin with and I liked the more neutral black fan for this case. The only fan I kept was the included rear exhaust fan that has Cooler Master's "airflow" blade design because it should be sufficient with the help of the new top exhaust fans.

Finishing up with storage, I went with Team Group's MP34 NVMe M.2 SSD as a boot drive, and then got an excellent deal on a nice WD Blue 2.5" SATA SSD for storage. I've had good luck with Team Group's solid-state media with price-to-performance ratios being quite good, and the sale price on the WD drive with a nicer SATA controller than I normally look for in a storage drive was an added stroke of luck when I was shopping for this build. I've had good luck with this big/little drive combo (at least until NVMe drives get a little less expensive) and there won't be many programs installed on this system. I also threw in my standard wireless keyboard and mouse combo from Logitech to finish it off.

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Comments

  • 1 month ago
  • 5 points

Great build and amazing photos!

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

Thank you very much, I appreciate that!

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

You are very welcome!

  • 1 month ago
  • 2 points

I thought I had a long write up... This puts mines to shame (compliment). But man, very nice workstation build! Your uncle will have all the power for work!

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

Thank you! I'd rather be thorough and a little verbose over not include any useful information.

  • 1 month ago
  • 2 points

I love the build, I especially love the photos. What camera settings you use for it. I imagine the aperture is pretty wide. Like f2 or below.

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

You're close. Some of these photos were shot at f2.8, and some at f5.6 or so on depending on what depth of field I wanted for that shot and how close I was to the subject. I shot these with a Sony a7II and the Sony Sonnar T* 55mm f1.8 ZA lens at ISO 400 and whatever very slow shutter speed I needed. The trick for this kind of work is control over your lighting (balance it with the lighting in the computer) and shoot on a tripod and use a short self-timer (my camera has a 2-second self-timer mode) to avoid shaking the camera when you press the shutter button. I've been a photographer for about a decade. It's part of why I got into building PCs, I wanted something to edit on.

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for the help!

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

You're welcome!

  • 1 month ago
  • 2 points

me likey

  • 1 month ago
  • 2 points

thank u for likey

  • 1 month ago
  • 2 points

Let me start off with awesome, high-quality photos. With the quality of cameras in smartphones these days, there really isn't an excuse for bad photography. Thank you for that, I love the build, it looks great and I haven't read the description yet, but I'm looking forward to the detail I see. The parts list looks really well-thought out and budgeted with savings in mind for the best performance. Nice job.

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

Thank you! I'm actually a photographer, so I used my real camera to shoot these.

  • 1 month ago
  • 2 points

Of course, I wouldn't think a smartphone would've taken these. I noticed you're from Chapel Hill, I've got lots of family up there and go there often, some studying at UNCCH, some at NC state, small world.

  • 29 days ago
  • 2 points

Go Heels, baby!

  • 3 days ago
  • 2 points

Love a long write up. Good job, nice build!

  • 2 days ago
  • 1 point

Thank you!

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

I’m thinking of a feature!

  • 1 month ago
  • 0 points

Its not beating the custom loop

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

To me it does. It doesnt matter how good the system is. You can have a 16 core beast that looks like a pile of terd, or you could be like this guy and put effort into something that might not have the best parts, and people like this guy get the features, not like the guy who put no effort into his build.

  • 1 month ago
  • 0 points

U mean 16 THREAD...

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

I wasnt talking about this pc when i said a 16 core beast looks like trash. This is the pc with the lower specs that has time and effort put into it

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

OOOOh. I thought u were talking about a computer with equivelent specs with bad asthetics, the 3700x has 8 cores, 16 threads.

  • 21 days ago
  • 1 point

Looks great. Will you do other builds. I live in the Greater Toronto area, Mississauga specifically. If you are close I'd consider it. Paul

  • 21 days ago
  • 1 point

Sorry, I live far away in the States!

  • 20 days ago
  • 1 point

thanks, come visit sometime...lol