Motherboard, CPU Cooling And Case
Motherboard: ASRock X79 Extreme4
September’s build was only moderately successful with ASRock’s mid-market X79 Extreme6. So why would I choose a lower-model board from the same vendor? And why would I pay an extra $20 for a product that, based on its specifications, should be inferior?
Read Customer Reviews of ASRock's X79 Extreme4 (opens in new tab)
Well, there’s that award I gave the platform almost two years ago, for starters. My hope that its less expensive and better-equipped sibling was fixed through firmware was dashed last quarter. So now I'm hoping that this pricier version is as good as the sample I reviewed way back in 2012.
CPU Cooling: Thermaltake Water 2.0 Extreme
I’m once again relying on personal experience. Thermaltake’s Water 2.0 Extreme was the top-performing sample of our 2013 round-up series.
Read Customer Reviews of Thermaltake's Water 2.0 Extreme (opens in new tab)
I expect this closed-loop solution to seriously outperform my September build’s big heat sink, particularly matched up to the right kind of case.
Case: Fractal Design Define R4
You could argue that the best enclosure for Thermaltake’s Water 2.0 Extreme would be anything able to support its radiator up front, used as an intake. On the other hand, the right case for AMD's Radeon R9 290 might be something with extra noise dampening to muffle the fan that spins up to obnoxious levels under load.
Read Customer Reviews of Fractal Design's Define R4 (opens in new tab)
Fortunately for me, Fractal Design’s Define R4 offers both traits. No wonder it earned our Recommended Buy award back in 2012.
Seeing that it is impossible to break even doing bitcoin mining with GPUs, i expect sooner than later a flood of barely used cards will hit the used market.
But in the case of the Bitcoiners, there's a better method to mine, why bother with the GPUs? Seems to me they lose out no matter how they end up.
Forum members often call a machine that burns far too much energy for the amount of useful work we get out of it a "space heater". But if you compare THIS machine to an ACTUAL space heater, you can clearly see the benefit of using THIS machine RATHER than an actual space heater to heat your workspace. Let mining pools pay a portion of this winter's heating bill!
I'm completely against the CONCEPT of crypto-currency mining because they produce no USEFUL data. We're producing GARBAGE data of increasing difficulty generation-by-generation and wasting all those resources to do it. It's worse than raising cattle for the leather and throwing away the meat. It's more akin to raising cattle for photographs of the cow and throwing away the cow!
These machines might actually benefit society if they were using a program like F@H, and we'd at least have a solid argument between their cost to society and their benefit to society. Someone should have beat the bitcoin guy to the punch and developed F@H coins.
Or take a look at cloud servers. Large companies are renting out their excess computing resources during low-traffic periods. Now look at PC-based, self-serving distributed computing platforms like Skype. The per-user cost is low but the number of users is high, so hosting the program across those same "clients" makes sense.
Why don't we have companies knocking down our doors begging for our excess data resources? Someone with a great marketing plan AND excellent technical knowledge should set up a distributed computing platform that pays individuals for their contributions. Environmentalists should praise that move as reducing the number of data centers needed world-wide, but me?
I'm just trying to reduce waste. I even collect my small bits of scrap metal (broken car parts, etc) and give them away to scrap metal collectors because it costs more to take these in than these are worth. Those guys collect enough small batches to make it worth the 15-mile trip. And you don't need to be a tree hugger to see that everyone benefits from that type of effort.
If we're to believe what we're told and crypto-currency mining is to blame for retailer spikes in the highest-tier AMD cards, then I expect to see AMD make some changes in its next generation of cards, especially if AMD isn't cashing in on the rush for its cards and the price hikes are solely due to merchant mark-ups. Considering AMD's business concerns over recent years, I don't expect AMD to make any such profitability mistake ever again. Instead, I think AMD will follow nVidia's example.
When nVidia capped GPGPU performance on the majority of its cards, then went on to produce the Titan and Tesla cards without such GPGPU restriction at higher prices, I was OK with that. It meant gamers could buy cards built for gaming at a reasonable price, people who used their cards for both gaming and GPGPU-related tasks could buy a card built for both for a premium, and researchers could buy cards that were fully-optimized for GPGPU use for an even higher premium. If AMD had done that with the R9-series, we'd have quite a few more gamers sporting brand new AMD cards this holiday season.
And back to the article... Heckuva build! It's an improvement over the previous build in just about every way, with the exception of its current cost.
I figure there will be a flood of used cards on the market in three months as it gets more difficult to mine the most profitable currencies. But someone mentioned that before I responded. It would be REALLY REALLY bad for AMD to spend 6-weeks increasing production volume, only to see a flood of cheap used cards knock the market out from under their new card sales. Once again, AMD is probably doing best to stick to its plans. Nobody remembers when Intel blamed overproduction by AMD for the CPU market collapse of 1999..in fact those news articles were buried within three months. But I remember :)