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I7 2600k tri-crossfire build advice please

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Last response: in Systems
January 18, 2012 6:25:45 PM

Hi all,

I'm new to the forums here, so a hearty hello to all my fellow techies.

Looking at completing my new build in the coming weeks. When payday hits anyway :) 

Was originally planning on socket 2011 build but it's still too rich for my blood at the moment.

>> My current setup:

Asus Rampage Formula 775

4GB Corsair Dominator 1066 DDR2

Intel Q6600 B3 @ 3.0GHz
Running sweet, 25-30 idle, 55-60 load with below cooling.

Thermalright Ultra 120
With one of these installed
Sharkoon Silent Eagle 2000

Asus Xonar DS PCI

The above served happily for many a year paired with a 4870 1GB and 2* 500GB samsung F3 Intel SW raid.

>> Recent additions, that will stay with the build

Coolermaster HAF X

2* 2GB MSI HD Radeon 6950 Twin Frozr
I have a 3rd one still awaiting installation as I don't have sufficient PCI-E on this board.
Got a damn good deal on them, I'm not completely mental :p 

Crucial M4 256GB
(Currently running at SATA2 speeds on intel controller)

23.5" Dell U2311H @ 1920*1080
Looking at possiblity of going eyefinity at a later date.
Maybe with 2 ~20" for the side views, tough to get monitors that will match the aspect ratio correctly. 2 More U2311Hs would be expensive. Thoughts on this?

>> Now the new stuff
Planning to get the following:

Intel Core i7 2600K

Corsair H80 Hydro Series High Performance CPU Cooler
Liking this but not the high noise, Not too keen on shelling out cash for new fans for it either. Thoughts?
Note: A proper watercooling setup might be too much maintenance for lazy old me.

Be Quiet Dark Rock PRO BK016 CPU Cooler
Maybe this if sticking with air cooling?

MSI Z68A-GD80 (G3) Intel Z68 Socket 1155 Motherboard
Pretty set on this board from reading reviews and the PCI 3.0 support, military grade components and overall build quality of the board.
However open to suggestions on other sufficient solutions to install my 3*6950 CF + SSD @ rated speed.

Corsair Memory Dominator GT 8GB DDR3 2133 Mhz CAS 9 XMP DHX Dual Channel Desktop
Very open to suggestions on this, My experience with Corsair memory so far is a good one but I'm sure other vendors offer similar.

Antec HGC-900 High Current Gamer 900W Power Supply (PSU)
Something like should be sufficient, just picked this one as Antec PSUs have been flawless for me so far.
Be-Quiet look to be pretty top these days, Thoughts?

Asus Xonar D2X

Asus Xonar DX
Again open to suggestions on this, Would prefer to avoid creative as I've just had too much grief with their drivers over the years.

>> Some info that I think is relevant.

* Delivery will be to Ireland, so retailers are somewhat limited.

* Budget is not a factor at the moment will adapt as need be.

* I work in IT support so I'm fairly competant at troubleshooting.

* I'm a novice overclocker looking to delve a bit deeper.

* The purpose of my computer is primarily gameing (Who'dve guessed eh :p )

* I run my comp ~16 hours a day

Sorry for the very longwinded post, I figured better too much detail than too little.

Any and all thoughts are appreciated, Any more info needed let me know.

Thanks in advance,

More about : 2600k tri crossfire build advice

January 18, 2012 6:39:09 PM

Scaling in tri-SLI and Xfire is dissmal at best, its a nice build. I7 may be overkill but definitely rethink the tri-GPU setup. Especially on a Sandy-bridge system that is limiting on PCI-e lanes neccesary for tri-GPU.

PSU may also be lacking for 3 GPUs. Have you chosen a card yet?
January 18, 2012 9:44:21 PM

Aye I have the 3 cards already. So no going back. Got em for a nice price so happy anyhow :)  The 2 are running quite well.
From what I read 3 scale better than 4 and much better than 2 but proof otherwise would be nice, Links?

I think a 950-1000w should be enough including some aging according to PSU calculator anyhow. The 6950s are quite low power consumption.

The board I have selected has PCI 3.0 and from what reviews say It's working well.

Thanks for the response.
Related resources
January 18, 2012 10:01:32 PM

I haven't delved in a year or so into tri-CF but my experience is mirrored by the author below....meybe things have changed ?

We've been dealing with CrossfireX reviews ever since the beginning and surely a lot has changed over the years. The one recommendation we always gave you guys is to keep it simple at 2 GPUs maximum, as after 2 GPUs in a CrossfireX setup you quickly run into weird anomalies that can be irritating.

So over the years Multi-GPU support has improved quite a bit, AMD still isn't up-to snuff at the level of NVIDIA though, multi-GPU supports still literally and directly remains the Achilles heel of ATI's Catalyst drivers.

So let's round things up, personally we always say stick to one or maybe two high-end cards as there is so much less driver fuzz to worry about. It's like this with ATI, once you pass 2 GPUs you'll often find yourself compromising a lot with new game titles versus multi-GPU support.
January 18, 2012 10:01:38 PM

Novuake said:
Scaling in tri-SLI and Xfire is dissmal at best, its a nice build. I7 may be overkill but definitely rethink the tri-GPU setup. Especially on a Sandy-bridge system that is limiting on PCI-e lanes neccesary for tri-GPU.

PSU may also be lacking for 3 GPUs. Have you chosen a card yet?

I could not agree more .
January 18, 2012 10:13:32 PM

Tri Fire works real well certainly better than one or two cards that's a guarantee tri SLI not so much. Perhaps an i5 2500K is a better option you are wasting money on an i7 if you are just gaming and i5 2500K is overkill.
January 18, 2012 10:16:02 PM

Outlander_04 said:
I could not agree more .

two cards CF is upwards of 80 to 100% scaling and the third card offers up and additional 20 to 30% performance highly worth it if you have the money and the need for it.
January 19, 2012 1:20:27 AM

Gordon Freeman said:
two cards CF is upwards of 80 to 100% scaling and the third card offers up and additional 20 to 30% performance highly worth it if you have the money and the need for it.

I could agree more with that , but Im not going to .
The third card is likely to add way less than that

And on a single 1080p screen its going to add NOTHING
January 19, 2012 4:05:33 AM

The MSI Z68A-GD80 doesn't have proper support for 3x gpus. If you're insistent upon sticking with 1155 over 2011 then you need to find a nf200 board like the Extreme7.
January 19, 2012 9:47:49 PM

Aye seems to be the general consensus that the 3rd card is not worth it.
I will do some testing with the 3 and if it all goes topsy turvy I will sell off the 3rd card before it devalues too much.

Planning to go eyefinity in a few months so the extra grunt will be nice for 5760*1080 or 3240*1920

CPU wise, I should've mentioned I do run quite a few VMs in VMware workstation experimenting with ESX boxes sometime so lots of ram and cpu cache is useful for that. I've heard its also good to reduce bottleneck with Multi GPU setups?
Also no harm in being ready for games that support 8 Cores Eh?

Regarding the board

Z68 Extreme7 Gen3
One of these do the trick?
Will the NF200 chipset play nice with the Ati GPUs?
January 19, 2012 10:32:38 PM

Outlander_04 said:
I could agree more with that , but Im not going to .
The third card is likely to add way less than that

And on a single 1080p screen its going to add NOTHING

Put it this way that third card could be the difference between maintaining a consistent 60fps in some games and that is why I recommend it if you have the right gear for it and if it don't break you bank.
January 20, 2012 5:03:20 AM

mugsir said:

Z68 Extreme7 Gen3
One of these do the trick?
Will the NF200 chipset play nice with the Ati GPUs?

The first will work, the 2nd will not.

NF200 is gpu independent.
January 24, 2012 10:16:12 PM

Thanks for the input guys. I'm hoping my new plan below will allow me to make better use of the 3GPUs.

Don't really trust the Nvidia chipset, seeing the crap the've pulled before, driver upgrade to stop being using an nvidia board as a dedicated physx engine for example. You buy the hardware you should be able to do what you like with it.

From the recently acquired knowledge of the impending release of the S2011 i7-3820
I've decided to change my build to S2011 pending the affordable quadcore i7-3820.

The 3 reviews I've found of this chip are here @
Toms Hardware
Hot Hardware

Only note I've found about the Release date Looking like February 13th

Thoughts on this chip?
The stock clocks?
Limited overclock ability(which should be plenty for my needs for now)

Anyone got any insight into a solid release date for this chip?
From what I hear it's looking like mid February. Which will give me a bit of extra time to research getting this beast right.

The decision is now, 16GB or 32GB of ram and what speed?
Pretty crazy money again for the 32GB ram kits at higher speeds 32GB of 1866MHz is a mental price of ~£500
But a set of 1600 is a little more fair @ ~£250

Some nice vids regarding Asus' take on ssd caching and ram disks

My reasoning for looking at 32GB of ram is for the possibility to have a 16GB ram disk to run games that are just getting bigger and bigger.
Would I be better off with just ssd caching or a ram disk setup?
It seems both is also possible but might be overkill

ASUS P9X79 Deluxe
ASRock X79 Extreme9

5-Way Intel X79 Mobo Shootout

Any other vendors offering ssd caching tech?
From the vids linked above it seems that the chipset does not support it natively

Any and all thoughts are appreciated.
January 25, 2012 2:00:11 AM

As it stands right now the i7-3280 will ship Feb 13. It's not limited in its overclocking. While it doesn't support unlocked multipliers, the LGA2011 platform (Z79) supports BCLK increments unlike 1155. This means you can run a 125mhz base clock with up to a 43 multiplier and below. 43*125 = 5.375 ghz. Not what I'd call limited whatsoever.

It will perform in a similar manner to the 2600K/2700K but you'll have native pci-e 3.0 support, 40 ondie pci-e lanes from Z79. You do miss out on SRT from Z68, but most people had no interest in it to begin with.

If you're interested in SSD caching, then you can replace this functionality with a OCZ Synapse drive and Corsair has their own version shipping soon. I've looked at the Synapse and the reviews are really positive. I'm either going to do a 4x SSD + discrete RAID or the Synapse depending on which way the wind is blowing when I finally buy. I'd avoid Asus' caching, it's done off of a marvel controller (9128 if I remember) which was a really poor choice for any current generation SSD as it's limited to a single x1 pci-e lane. If you go with the Synapse you can run it off of Intel's controllers which are based on x4 lanes.

If you don't want to drop big money on RAM, stick with the 4x4GB dimms. The 8GB dimms are still really expensive. You can pick up a 16GB quad channel kit for about $80.

I'm currently looking mostly at the Asrock Extreme7. It's an affordable X79 board that supports a myriad of different pci-e configurations/layouts while having quad gpu support. Another option that seems promising is the ECS board in which they've enabled the 4x SAS controllers that Intel disabled. The downside is these controllers again cannot be used for boot devices, but if you're running a Cache SSD they'd make for wonderful expansion slots for a 4x SSD RAID0 application array. Keep in mind though that Intel disabled them for a reason, and there has been virtually no testing that I've found done on these SAS controllers.

Some things to think about anyways, best of luck.

January 25, 2012 5:29:09 PM

Cheers for the thoughts a4mula.

I'm hoping the extra pci-e lanes will be worth it as I'm insistent for this 3gpu setup to work.

Not too bothered about SRT as I'm happy enough for non-priority games to load a bit slow, my raid is reasonably quick.

I will look further into exactly what controller they run the ssd off with on that Asus board. I've had personal experience with the 9128 Marvell controller via a Sata 6G PCI-E 1x card. The intel Sata2 controller gave better speeds and the drivers support trim, So it won't kill my ssd :) 

I'll weigh up the pros and cons of the ram, tempted by 4*8GB sticks. Might be overkill but ram disk BF3 sounds like a plan, My Jet, haha :) 

The Asrock seems a great board for the money. Will look up some more reviews.
Any in particular you recommend for ssd perf?

Best of luck with your new speed-demon build too.
January 25, 2012 6:49:56 PM

mugsir said:

Any in particular you recommend for ssd perf?

All of the 1155/2011 boards ship with only 2x Intel 6Gb/s connects. The intel controller seems to be the only onboard controller that consistently will push a SSD to their manufacturer specs.

I know Gigabyte and Asrock both have offerings with a 2x Marvel 9182 which from the few reviews seems to be a viable controller and a large upgrade over the the previous 9128 or 9172.

The problem is that all of these boards still only support 2x of these upper tier controllers which rules out anything above a 2 drive RAID configuration. If you're considering anything above this it seems as though the only viable option is to budget a discrete controller or HBA.

As of right now I'm personally leaning towards the IBM M1015 which is based on the LSI SAS2008 chipset. It's the same board as the 9240-i8 but can be flashed to a 9211-i8 also. The advantage is that it can be found for as little as $150 new. While these hbas don't have onboard cache, that's not a huge issue for SSDs. It has a 533mhz PowerPC ROC and seems to handle even the current SF2281 drives in RAID0 with little trouble.

Bottom line, is if you need 2x drives in RAID, any motherboard will be fine because they all have the 2x Intel controllers. If you need more, than onboard options really aren't suitable. At least this is what found in my digging around.
February 5, 2012 1:00:29 AM

Cheers, Nice info on the raid ssd considerations.
Nice specs and price on that HBA, I hope it delivers the performance you're looking for.

I don't think I'm gonna go any more than 2 ssds, so shouldn't be an issue.

Thanks for the link. The benchmarks I've been looking for.

Eye-opening results. Pity it seems not very worth while. Does do some good in stalker.
Some testing with the 79xx range sems they've got it right or a littler closer at least.

3*7970 testing

I'm reconsidering and will most likely just sell off the 3rd 6950 and go with a z68 board with the NF200 chipset.

Thanks for all the input, I will post the final spec and results of my build here soon.
February 5, 2012 1:52:35 PM

Gordon Freeman said:
It kinda goes without saying that a good CPU is in order so as to not inhibit a bottleneck for three cards LOL.

Your more likely to be limited by PCI-e bandwidth.
February 5, 2012 2:40:36 PM

Novuake said:
Your more likely to be limited by PCI-e bandwidth.

LOL Tri crossfire boards or proper Tri Crossfire/SLI boards have at leased min of three PCI-E lanes all running @ x8 speed which is in no way or form a tangible bottleneck.