Normally I don’t exhibit my own hardware but heck, I am rather proud of my 20th (!!) home built system, so I decided to show it off here. It not one of my standard builds that I always wanted to keep under 1000 euro because my tax adviser told me I had to make more expenses. Hell yeah! Please note this is not a system paid by Aerosoft (my colleagues should be so lucky), I buy my own hardware.
‘Stealthy Falcon’ is based around a AMD Ryzen 7 188X 8 core CPU and a Gigabit AX370 Gaming K7 motherboard. I decided to go for AMD because I really want competition to Intel in CPU’s. What we had the last 12 years is not healthy. I also liked to Ryzen because it has very good value for money and that it runs cool (more on that later). It’s a 3.6 GHz chip, but it runs 100% stable at 4 GHz without any overvolting. The motherboard was chosen because it offers a lot of memory tweaking options (memory compatibility is a weak point of the Ryzen chipset) but mainly because it has a dual network interface. I use two ISP’s for connection and do not like to add add-on NICs. As it is a gaming motherboard it has loads of leds that can light up in a zillion colour. On my build, the colour matches the CPU load. <10% shows green, >80% load shows red colour.
Sixteen gigabyte of G.Skill Ripjaws 3,2 GHz memory was recognized as 2.2 GHz and need to be told its own speed in the BIOS. It now runs at 3,4 GHz, will probably try 3,6 later. Memory speed is really of very limited importance these days. A Be Quiet 650-watt power supply with modular cables is ample for the system.
My favorite bit of hardware is the Samsung 960 PRO SSD. That’s a NVMe drive (so not SATA but it plugs directly in the motherboard). This tiny 1 TB drive reads at 3500 MB/s and writes 2100 MB/s, now if you keep in mind a very fast standard SATA SSD does 540 MB/s read, 520 MB/s write you will understand it is seriously fast. Remember when you first started FSX after installing a SSD? How fast it was? You will have the same experience when you update from SATA SSD to NVMe SSD. It’s fast. I run an older 500 Gb SSD for my Steam library (of course the flightsims run of the fast drive) and a 10 TB hard disk for long term storage. As graphics card, I decided to stick with my 1070, I find it hard to justify a more expensive card for my use.
Because this is my 20th build I also decided to go for a special ‘case’. As I often fiddle with drives etc. a ‘show case’ where you do not have to open it every time you need to plug a cable seemed to make a lot of sense. I decided on a Thermaltake Core P5 that looks more like a coffee table then a computer case. All your parts are fully visible under the glass cover and the side are completely open. The complete open structure was also inspired by my Dared amplifier that also shows its soft glowing vacuum tubes to the world. Sorry for the shitty picture, my phone is not very good at low light conditions.
As the completely open system would rest om my desk keeping it quiet was very important. As we all know P3D and X-Plane can push CPU’s easily to 100% the cooling needed to be very low noise. I decided to go for a 3-fan closed loop liquid cooling system from be quiet. A bit of overkill but I intend to hook up the GPU to the waterloop later. But it is damned effective, after stress testing all 8 cores at 100% load for 30 minutes the GPU leveled out at 39 degrees (the correct Celsius kind) and the three fans that idle at 528 rpm sped up to 720 rpm. I can’t hear them. At one-meter distance the system is totally silent to my ears.
Contrary to what you might think a completely open case is NOT good for thermal management because there is not a lot of airflow over some components. While doing the stress testing part of the motherboard peaked at 85 degrees and I had to add a small fan aimed at that part. Excluding the graphics card, there is now no temperature sensor that goes over 40 degrees even when the system runs full load. While being almost totally silent. The build is completed with some of my favourite bits from my previous main system, the Edifier speakers (the Dared of course has its own ELAC speakers), my LG super widescreen, Aukey mechanical keyboard, Logitech’s MX master mouse, Windows Hello compatible fingerprint reader, 28 port USB hub and Microsoft Surface Dial.
So how much faster is this new system compared to my previous one? That one has a 6 core i7-5820k with 16 Gb of memory on an ASUS X99 motherboard. All running at stock speed. To test this I used my standard set of situations in P3d V4. These situations go from incredibly heavy to very low load. I was surprised about the results. All these are average fps over 10 minutes, after rebooting the system and using the test situations as startup situation.
Old: 12, 44, 126.
New 17, 51, 148.
Clearly the system helps more when the going gets tough. I think that is because of the two additional cores but I will need to look at this a bit more. In the medium complexity setup, the gain was minimal. Clearly the superfast drive makes loading the sim a lot faster, something that really helps when you work with it as we do.
Not being a X-Plane expert I only did minimal testing but it seemed to me that X-Plane is as always better in using more hardware. All FPS were around 20% higher. Again, the faster disk made a hell of a difference. I am very happy with ‘Stealthy Falcon’. I build a new system every 18 month, but this was the first where I decided to spend time on the looks and ergonomics. I think I managed to pull it off. I spend an enjoyable week selecting and ordering the parts and trying to fit it all and make it look good.
Thanks to my tax adviser!