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Building Our Graphics-Oriented Beast

System Builder Marathon, August 2012: Alternative $2000 Gaming PC

The Hyper 212 Evo requires the use of a support plate behind the motherboard of any platform except LGA 2011. That support plate fits our LGA 1155 motherboard as shown below. It also has alternative holes for older Intel LGA interfaces, and it flips over to fit most of AMD's sockets.

The nuts in the shot above fit onto standoffs in the below photo. After applying thermal paste, we’re ready to add the cooler.

A folding cross-bracket simply screws onto the standoffs, though the intake fan must first be unclipped in order to access those screws.

The Eleven Hundred’s four-fan hub requires a four-pin drive connector, which would have detracted from the build’s overall clean appearance. The hub also lacks the heat-sensitive fan speed controls built into the motherboard. Unfortunately, the G1.Sniper 3 doesn’t have all the right connectors in all the right places.

The top fan’s cable isn’t long enough to reach the “Sys Fan 2” header. Rather than give up entirely on fan speed control, I attached the low-speed CPU fan to that connector and set it to full-speed in BIOS. The top fan is attached to the CPU fan header, using CPU temperature to control its speed (and noise level). Que sera, sera?

The G1.Sniper 3’s 16-lane slots are spaced two slots apart, and builders who use SLI in this configuration are left with only one place to put the board’s included Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo card. Upgrading to three-way SLI either blocks that slot or the motherboard’s second front-panel USB 3.0 connector, depending on where the third card is placed. Four-way SLI gives up both features.

The XL-ATX-sized Eleven Hundred leaves enough room for a bottom graphics card plus the included eSATA breakout adapter, though adding the adapter would have ruined the finished build’s clean look. Our tests won’t require eSATA, but the winner of this system might choose to add the adapter plate at a later time.

Designed for three graphics cards with two auxiliary power connectors, this power supply has enough output connectors to add a fourth cable with two PCIe leads, if you choose to go that route. The low power consumption of Intel’s Ivy Bridge-based CPUs, the moderate needs of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 670, the quad-SLI support of Gigabyte’s G1.Sniper 3, and the high output capability of Seasonic’s X-1050 combine to make this upgrade a viable option. You will, however, have to scour the Web for someone selling a fourth power cable.

The finished build looks very clean, though the mid-sized CPU cooler might look a little out of place in such a spacious chassis.

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