Workstation Gaming Rig with AMD Ryzen 9 3950X CPUAugust 3, 2020
We built another custom AMD workstation, this one has AMDs 3rd generation Ryzen 9 3950X CPU, part of the Zen 2 architecture. It offers 16 cores and 32 threads of processing power. AMD says these are the most advanced desktop processors in the world offering the highest single-thread and multi-thread performance of any mainstream desktop processors at 4.7GHz. In fact, last year in November, it broke the world overclocking record. The AMD Ryzen 3950X is about a quarter of the size of the Threadripper from our last build, and we are going to pair that with a Nvidia Titan RTX! This particular configuration will be a workstation/gaming center for a client in the entertainment biz.
We’re going to pop that AMD Ryzen 3950X CPU into an ASUS TUF GAMING X570-PLUS ATX gaming motherboard, which is a mid-level consumer/gamer board. It features the AM4 socket and X570 chipset. These 3rd gen Ryzens are the first desktop processors delivering PCIe 4.0 and are ideal for elite gaming and workstation-class content creation.
AMD Ryzen Processor
Both the X570 and B550 boards support PCIe 4.0 and are future ready to incorporate the next generation “Zen 3 Architecture.” Ryzen 9 is the latest and greatest of the Zen 2 line, offering the best performance and cores available, but there’s also Ryzen 3, 5 and 7 desktop processors offering various levels of performance. At 16 cores, our AMD Ryzen 3950X is the next level down from the Threadripper 3970x at 32 cores. That said, we did find the naming AMD Ryzen 3950X a little too similar to the 3970x and 3990x, which are completely different animals and use a different socket.
In additional to that killer Ryzen CPU and ASUS X570 board, this current build features the newest edition Fractal Define 7 case, which has been described as the finest, great, the best, and very impressive in several different reviews.
This system will also include a Dark Core gaming mouse, Corsair Rapid-Fire mechanical keyboard, and Corsair CPU liquid cooler, all with built-in RGB lighting effects. In other words, while it’s kicking ass on frame rates and making your power-hungry, alter-ego gaming dream of being a super hero come true, this system will look great doing it. Let’s not forget about that Nvidia RTX Titan GPU too.
The Fractal Design 7 case is an update to the Fractal Design Define R6 USB-C case used in the AMD 3990x Threadripper workstation we did a few weeks back. Like the R6, you have all sorts of options with this one. Top, front, and center, there’s a large power ON button, with a few ports for headphones, and a USB-c port on the left, plus two USB 2.0, and two USB 3.0 on the right.
However, our motherboard has no USB-C header to connect that USB-C port, but there is still one on the back. The build quality on this chassis is outstanding with a brushed aluminum front bezel, and very tight tolerances on all the other panels. Inside the case, integrated cable guides with Velcro ties help you organize your system layout. Not to mention Fractal also provides some great “how to videos” to get the best layout for your needs.
The case comes with three 140 mm fans, but you can install a total of nine 140 or 120 mm fans. Even the Optical drive can be removed to make way for another fan. It can support larger size motherboards up to 285 mm, that would be the E-ATX size, but our build will have an ATX board. The default “Open Layout” offers plenty of room for installing a liquid cooling solution with the associated reservoirs and radiators.
You can remove both side panels and the entire top of the case for easy setup and replacement of components. It also has high air flow nylon screen filters front, top, and bottom for dusty environments or industrial settings. We actually replaced the top cover for more cooling, and added a Hydro Series H100i RGB PLATINUM Liquid CPU Cooler featuring a 240mm radiator and dual fans at the top of the chassis.
You can install up to 14 hard drives plus four dedicated SSD mounts. Of course, our board only supports up to 8x SATA connections, but we’ll get to that. Any unused fan positions can be converted to support a drive or pump mount using a versatile multibracket.
This system supports an EVGA SuperNOVA 80 Plus Gold 1000W PSU, so definitely some power. I love the name of that too Supernova! Kaboom! With sound dampening on the front top and side panels, Fractal says this case is exceptionally quiet. The drive cages also have vibration dampening, and with a liquid CPU cooler, it’s even more quiet. That said, we’re not sure how many decibels equates to “exceptionally quiet.”
What is the Ryzen in relation to the Ryzen Threadripper? Well, both use the Zen 2 microarchitecture with a 7 nanometer process. There are just more chiplets on the Threadripper. You can fit four of those chiplets on the Threadripper form factor, which I might add is gigantic. These new AMD 3rd Gen Ryzen 9 CPUs occupy a much smaller AM4 socket than the TR4 or TRX4 sockets for the Threadrippers.
Our ASUS X570 motherboard has all the latest features, including PCIe 4.0, and future compatibility with Zen 3 architecture whenever that comes out. Additional features include Aura Sync RGB synchronized lighting with addressable RGB headers peppered throughout. It allows you to automatically adjust lighting effects to specific Gen 2 RGB devices. Armory Crate is the software utility that will help you to configure the system, it includes Aura Sync as mentioned, plus centralized control of gaming products. It also allows you to save overclocking and other personalization settings.
Tthere are quite a few little heat sinks scattered around the board. The AMD X570 Chipset has its own heatsink with fan, presumably so your board doesn’t spontaneously combust from overclocking. The board also has two x4 M.2 connectors that can connect either in NVMe 4.0 PCIe or SATA modes for your boot drive.
We will be using two 2TB NVMe drives in those dedicated slots, which can also be RAIDed together for some truly blazing fast PCIe 4.0 speeds at up to 8000 MB/s, theoretical, for those that are PCIe 4.0 ready. These ones aren’t, but still very fast at the PCIe 3.0 speeds. There are 8x connectors for SATA drives on the motherboard. For support of SAS drives, you can opt for an HD RAID controller, but with limited PCIe slots available consider your options wisely. For large data transfers, like video editing or other image heavy files, NVMe is the way to go.
Five PCIe slots on the system board include one x16 mechanical and electrical for the GPU, in this case a Nvidia Titan RTX. The other three small slots are X8 mechanical with a x1 electrical lane. And that other x16 mechanical slot has a x4 electrical lane, so no dual GPUs at least with full bandwidth. Two x4 connections on the motherboard are dedicated for 2x full length M.2 drives. We also used a PCIe card supporting a single M.2 drive in that other x4 electrical X16 slot.
Ports on the back of the system include a USB 3.2 Gen2 Type C port, USB 3.2 Gen 1 port, a display port, an HDMI port, another USB 3.2 Gen2 port, Realtek LAN port with Turbo LAN utility and several audio connections for some serious premium audio, whether you are a developer or gamer. Network connection speeds are up to 1GB/s with the RealTech LAN port with Turbo LAN. If you’re wondering what that TUFF Gaming Alliance thing is, a bunch of manufacturers got together to make components that are supported and compatible with each other so we can buy them and it will just… work, so you don’t have to go Hulk on them when it fails.
These include the Corsair K70RGB RapidFire mechanical Gaming keyboard, the Dark Core RGB SE Wired/WRLS ACCS Gaming Mouse, and that cool Corsair CPU cooler we have for this system. And remember the Armory Crate has Aura Sync so you can play around with RGB lighting effects supported on the previously mentioned devices.
The ASUS board has a proprietary memory design to tap into AMDs Infinity Fabric architecture enabling higher frequencies and lower latencies plus improved stability. The AMD Ryzen 3950x supports two memory channels and with only four memory module slots on the motherboard.
We are going to use all memory channels outfitted with Crucial Ballistix Gaming Memory with 32GB per module operating at 3200MHz for a total of 128GB of memory, the max this board supports. These modules are unbuffered. ECC memory is also supported but you will take a slight hit in performance. Non ECC memory will definitely give you a boost in performance, and indeed running higher frequency memory modules like the 3200GHz modules we used will also increase performance because internal chiplet communications are impacted by your memory module speed.
The CPU runs at a base clock rate of 3.5 GHz, but can boost to 4.7GHz presumably with a little tweaking. With superior liquid cooling like on our system, you’ll realize even better performance and higher clock rates, and all of that without the little tweaking mentioned. That said, AMD will not refund you if you break your processor because of overclocking. But if overclocking is in your DNA then AMD does have a utility called the AMD Ryzen Master to help you unlock the potential of your processor and personalize performance, and we’re guessing you can save these settings in the Armory Vault. This processor does not have integrated graphics so forget those display ports on the back of the case. Instead, your video will be running directly off the Nvidia Titan RTX at up to 4x 4K monitors plus a USB-c port for a direct connect VR headset.
NVIDIA Titan RTX GPU
The Nvidia Titan RTX offers 24 GB of GDDR6 memory. In comparison to the Geforce RTX 2080 TI, this new Titan has all pathways unlocked for greater levels of performance with more tensor cores, a higher boost clock rate, twice as much memory, plus 72 Ray tracing cores for photorealistic images. And then you have AI assistance for even smoother rendering performance. For researchers, creators, and gamers those 4608 CUDA cores provide up to 130 Teraflops of performance! However, keep in mind the GPU can only be used for a portion of the heavy lifting for compute. To take full advantage of that GPU processing power, you still need a good CPU, and the 3950x is or at least was the world’s most powerful 16-core desktop processor on the market, at least last year. Note, this is a desktop processor and along with AMDs other high-end processors it is blurring the lines between workstation and desktop performance.
These AMD Ryzen processors are unleashing a new level of creativity in the entertainment and gaming industry blurring the lines between cinematic special effects and those in games. This particular platform is somewhat of a hybrid since it can game and at the same time provide developers with a powerful option for game creation. With a superior core count and processing speed enabling more time for design and more scenes rendered, designers and gamers can enjoy greater depth and realism in these virtual creations.
IT Creations is branching out a little, so you will be seeing more of these custom AMD integrations. Systems like this are being snapped up by local special effects production companies like hot cakes! If you’re interested in something along these lines or if you have other ideas, then give us a call. We offer very competitive pricing and specialize in custom configurations, while also providing hardware to a number of production companies around the Los Angeles area and beyond.