Even though this rig was first assembled back in February, there were quite a few things that delayed me from posting this sooner, including rebuilds, wiring, and this writeup.
Edit: Following a processor replacement, I'm not going to bother with any more overclocking. The BIOS stock settings are more than enough for my daily use. (haha)
Cygnet: A Summary
Source Code: https://github.com/Cappycot/Cygnet
Video Footage (very blurry, I need a new camcorder): https://youtu.be/TuRH87pzMHA
If there is any interest at all, I can post more specifics about the Arduino setup later, including circuit diagrams.
I am a sucker for OLEDs.
The i9-9900K has questionable value. Get the i7-9700K or Ryzen 7 2700X instead.
My thermals are pretty bad.
Asus RGB bad.
Corsair RGB good.
I need a new camera to be honest.
A Bit of History
I've been waiting for a few years to build a new desktop to replace the old one that's been at my desk for at least half a decade. My last desktop sported an Intel Core i5-650 with an ATI Radeon HD 4650 graphics card. (This old desktop is shown in one of the pictures. Very dusty.)
In my excitement to acquire parts at my local Micro Center, I failed to run a price check on some of the parts, namely the Void Pro RGB headset (was the same price on Newegg at the time) and the CyberPower LX1325GU UPS (didn't find any lower prices anyway).
I think I spent at least a good half hour staring at the boxes. While I've built a couple of desktops before (one for my little brother and one for an office I worked in), I never built one for my own use and definitely not one this expensive before. With this lack of experience and patience, things like cable management don't come very easily to me.
The Initial Build/Problems
I always have trouble getting the motherboard in the right position in the case and then getting every screw in. This case was no exception. In fact, during the last rebuild, a small corner piece of the built-in IO shield on the Formula started to peel off. I'm not sure if this is because of rough handling or poor manufacturing, but it's hard to notice anyway since you have to look at the back.
I'm not going to talk too much about the very first build which used the cables that were provided with the Corsair PSU. A single PCIe cable was used in a daisy-chain fashion to power the GPU, and where the Arduino cables are now was a mess of RGB fan cables. The stock cables were difficult to shove into the cable sheath of the Obsidian 500D and did not bend very well in general. At the very least, nothing really changed with the radiator positioning. The later rebuilds added additional accessories - namely the CableMod cables, NZXT USB hub, and Corsair RGB strips.
Several Rebuilds Later
The first rebuild had the 24-pin connector going through the middle vertical grommet of the case, which didn't look quite as good as it does now. It's annoying that the holes for cables provided in the Obsidian 500D don't line up with any of the power cables in a perfect vertical/horizontal fashion like other good cases. The bottom hole at the PSU shroud also doesn't line up with the PCIe cables that plug into the Strix 2080.
After spending a week away at RSA Conference, I moved a few cables around for a better look. The 24-pin connector was routed through the top grommet rather than the middle, and the USB 3.0 connector now is plugged into the side of the motherboard instead of the bottom. This came at the cost of some of the cable length being shown, but at least the PCIe cables aren't as blocked as before. Absolutely nothing comes through the middle vertical grommet now, and I'm not exactly sure how I feel about that.
Anyways, special thanks to a friend who has helped me through the long process of building and rebuilding and talking about desktop building/tweaking in general.
While working on the final rebuild, I decided to connect the front panel of the motherboard to an Arduino UNO board rather than the case. The Arduino now acts as a middleman between the motherboard connectors and everything else. The only exception to this is the reset switch, which is still directly connected to the Formula. The Arduino program can power the rig on voice command or timer and play custom buzzer tones when it picks up a signal from the motherboard speaker connectors. For the circuit, I used two optocouplers to isolate the motherboard power connectors and case LED power from the Arduino circuit to prevent any unintended power ons. The power LED on the Corsair chassis can be directly controlled by the Arduino UNO, regardless of whether the desktop is powered on or not. Opening a serial connection to the Arduino allows for partial control of the system.
The initial bootup and run of the rig had the CPU sleeping at 4.0 GHz all cores for some odd reason, but that was very quickly changed in the BIOS settings.
So apparently the first 9900K CPU I got wasn't a good overclocker, and the replacement I got later is pretty much just as bad. The voltages needed are too high for a 5.0 GHz all core overclock given the temperatures that come with them. The reason may very well be the fact that I'm using an Asus Z390 motherboard, which (from some sources) are allegedly infamous for having 4-phase VRMs.
For the final build, I have my i9-9900K very close to stock at 4.8 GHz, and I'm keeping my GPU at 2.0 GHz and nothing more for now. This doesn't happen in any games I play, but when the fans on the Strix GPU spin up to full speed, it makes me think I own a Panzerkampfwagen rather than a desktop computer.
At the end of the day, overclocking doesn't matter too much to me when gaming as the CPU isn't really bottlenecking anything. (Except for unoptimized applications like VRChat.)
Almost anything I throw at the sum of my parts runs well enough.
I can boot to Windows 10 faster than I can [insert any task that takes roughly 30 seconds here].
I can put memes on the OLED screens.
Corsair's iCUE RGB system is brilliant and easy to work with. It's no wonder programs like Wallpaper Engine have their SDK integrated.
Like all other i9-9900K CPUs, this one warms up my room pretty well. The fact that my CPU is a bad overclocker doesn't help.
Highest Cinebench: 2136 at 5.0 GHz all core. When I closed out as many programs as I can, the processor managed to bench in the low 2100s. I won't be clocking this high though for general use; I just wanted to see if I could push the CPU a little.
Obviously, a 240mm AIO is not enough to handle the heat this 9900K gives off at a faster overclock, and the top of the Obsidian 500D doesn't help in the fact that the holes are little triangles as pointed out by Steve in his Gamers Nexus video review of the case.
I didn't account for the fact that the Ryujin cooler blocks the view of the OLED on the Formula motherboard, so I have to lean forward to get a good look at it.
Even though the only other RGB manager I've seen is iCUE, Asus Aura Sync is pretty subpar in comparison. The main Aura Sync manager annoying and refuses to recognize the Strix 2080 GPU.
The back half of the build looks like your typical The Verge PC nightmare with cables poorly-managed.
A week and a half after getting the Strix RTX 2080 from my local Micro Center, the price proceeded to drop from $819.99 to $789.99. To rub salt in the wound, the Strix RTX 2080 Ti decided to come back in stock after I settled in with all the parts.
1440p AAA Gaming
MiNeCrAfT aT 60 FPS
Video Editing (Once I figure out what I should use aside from Lightworks free edition.)
Kali Linux on Virtualbox
VR on an Oculus Rift - Gal*Gun 2, Robo Recall, VRChat, etc.
Possible Future Upgrades
Asus ROG Strix 2080 Ti (Maybe later, but not likely)
- Desire is the cause of suffering.
Improved Cable Management (Doubt it due to the time needed and little gain)
Corsair H115i Platinum or Asus ROG Ryujin 360 (Tempting, but it would kill me to install a new cooler and radiator)
- Fitting a 360 mm radiator would be too difficult given the space the Arduino and its components take in the front.
Corsair Vengeance PRO RGB or Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB (Not a chance even though it would make for a better light show)
Having seen this build which has very similar components to that of mine, I feel like I haven't done these parts enough justice. Nevertheless, I definitely like the results. At the very least, I'm fully inducted into the PC Master Race at this point if my Asus ROG laptop wasn't fully qualifying me.
I need a better camera. The quality of these build pictures is absolutely terrible.
Best Part Award: G.Skill Trident Z RGB
Can't say much other than the fact that I like it and it looks nice. If only iCUE could control it rather than Asus Aura Sync... The look of the heatsink puts it above Corsair Vengeance RAM in my book.
Worst Part Award: Asus ROG Ryujin 240mm AIO
This piece has yielded the most frustration recently for me even though it looks really cool. I would strongly recommend not getting it unless you really like the OLED screen on it and are willing to sacrifice good cooling from other well-established AIOs like a Corsair Hydro or NZXT Kraken.
The internal fan that is (apparently) there to cool the VRM sounds like a jet engine when running at max speed.
The surface of the cover scratches easily.
It's hard to see in the pictures, but the right side of the AIO block is raised slightly more than the left side. (The CPU core temperatures seem to be evenly-distributed though.)
After powering on from shutdown, Livedash doesn't load my custom image until I log in and open the program.
Custom animated GIFs are not supported as Asus claims and will likely screw up the cooler.
An annoying additional disk partition named "RYUJIN" shows up on the file explorer.
Questions I Think Would Be in a FAQ
What's with the poor cable management in the bottom left area?
There is an Arduino UNO (technically a counterfeit I bought for the black color) linked to the front panel connectors on the motherboard. It lets me control the power LED on the front of the case. While this build would look clean without the circuits, most of the jumper wires are black and white to match the CableMod cables at the very least.
What about the USB 3.0 and 3.1 connectors?
Yeah they don't bend very well do they...
Why did you not use the provided Noctua fans with the Ryujin? Those give better static pressure than the LLs.
Purely for RGB purposes; I stopped caring about overclocking.
"I bought this CPU only for the box."
Unless you have a weird obsession with the box like me or you need the higher processing power, get a 9600K/9700K or a Ryzen 7 2700X instead and save the difference. Better yet, wait until Ryzen gets Zen 2 if you are patient enough.
As for overclocking, I cannot speak to its capabilities having lost the silicon lottery. You should have something better than a 240mm AIO to push this processor beyond stock.
EDIT 2: The rumbling noises are actually coming from the built-in VRM fan when it's running at lower RPMs, but it's still very obnoxious to hear.
EDIT: The cooler is making the rumbling noises that are signs of a dying pump. It hasn't even been half a year.
clap clap meme review. The Asus ROG Ryujin and Ryuo coolers have OLED screens that let you put memes like the upside-down finger circle or gnome on them. I give this meme of an AIO 3/5.
In all seriousness, unless you are a ROG fanboy or like the OLED display, stick with AIOs that have better reputations like the NZXT Kraken or Corsair Hydro Series. You've heard the complaints of poorly-manufactured wires and other issues. The mirror-like surface is pretty easy to scratch, but I don't think it's easy to notice behind glass.
LiveDash software was stubborn for me, and more importantly, this cooler's OLED did not support animated GIFs (EDIT) if you downloaded the 1.04.12 version rather than the 1.05.02 version of LiveDash.
Not too many complaints from me, but I'm not one to thoroughly review this motherboard since I am not using a custom loop. I'm in it for the OLED. I don't doubt that it will tie into any custom loop well.
This board really should not have RGB LEDs if they are going to be this dim. The Asus product page really overhypes them, and I can't really see any of them through the smoked glass of the Obsidian 500D.
While I'm not knowledgeable on the topic, the VRM on this motherboard and some of its other Maximus XI counterparts did come under fire for being what seems like a 4-phase advertised as an 8-phase.
I can't describe how nice it looks (at least in my opinion) with my limited vocabulary.
This SSD lets my computer boot to Windows in less time than it takes me to get changed for the day, but at the end of the day, it may just be better to just use a SATA SSD in terms of value for money if you don't mind the hassle of installation.
Not sure what I hate about it if I do hate it. I guess I can be a little annoyed at Samsung claiming that an SSD solves every problem of computers being slow.
"Like King Crimson, "It just works."
My review with RTX off: It's good.
My review with RTX on: This graphics processing unit is quite remarkable.
It doesn't run too hot and does what it's told to do.
I love the glass and easy-access doors, but it makes cable management a nightmare for a first-time builder like me since I can't very easily shove the cables inward with a traditional sliding panel like the unknowledgeable person I am.
I like how they have a fan test button since the fan usually rests at 0 RPM by default. No issues with the unit as expected from Corsair.
The 16 individually-addressable RGB LEDs on each fan let me put on a show, and I like it. The light diffuses very nicely.
A solid choice for 1440p 144Hz gaming.
The perfect size - no space wasted on this keyboard. The detachable numpad is great. You can even move the numpad to the left side if that's your thing. The volume slider is a nice addition to the numpad as well.
Be warned that on some RGB configurations when not using the ROG Armoury program, the num lock, caps lock, and scroll lock will not light up when active. There's no other indication that any of the three lock keys are active except for when the light directly on the key glows white.
A unique six button setup on the side lets you more easily find the right button compared to a 3x4 square button setup. It's also nice to have a choice between keeping the mouse wired or going wireless. The thumb rest is nice to have, and the only issue is that the ridge on one of the buttons will leave a little crease on your thumb after extended gameplay.
This mouse is a bit on the heavy side though compared to other gaming mice, which might be an issue for some.
"Mic on. Mic off. Mic on. Mic off."
These are pretty much the first pair of over-ear headphones I've worn in my life and these are pretty comfortable. (Granted, this is someone who has been wearing Sennheiser on-ear Momentum headphones that get uncomfortable after a while.) Good for playing hours of SCP: Secret Laboratory or whatever game you need to talk in.
This headset has RGB on it for no good reason, and the mic can be stowed in an upright position so that you can continue to wear the headset while you consume Doritos after your victory royale.
Works as advertised. The only annoying thing about it is that it uses molex for its power (vomit).
The Good: It works and looks really nice while doing so (at least for black builds, can't say anything for white builds). There are no annoying logos that detract from the look of your rig.
The Bad: You have to get the 3D-printed bracket in the right position on the bracket before finalizing your screws, but it's not that hard.
The Ugly: The screws are not black, and may leave a mark on the brace depending on how far you screwed them in.