Description

UPDATED TO REVISION 2: https://ca.pcpartpicker.com/b/8kWD4D

Note: OC was originally 4.6Ghz at 4 sticks of RAM, but I reached the limit on my Dark Rock Pro 3 due to DRAMATICALLY increasing my Vcore because all 8 RAM slots being occupied required more Vcore. It turned out that was due to processor degradation because of high VTT/IMC voltages. I'm moved to a Cryorig A80, and will be making another completed build posting of the liquid cooled config for my system as soon as I replace my processor with a fresh CPU. Also, PCPartPicker does not allow for mismatching multiples of video cards officially, so the 770 had to be added as a custom part pointing to a PCPartPicker link.

BUILD VIDEO: https://vimeo.com/214342746

These are the components for my latest X79/C606 based build that can run Windows, Mac and Linux using native bootloaders or Clover for Mac.

I started my hardware upgrades with 16GB of Kingston HyperX RAM in April 2016 for my old P55 system. Later on, I wanted to play Overwatch so I got a EVGA GTX 1060 6GB FTW+ DT, a Corsair Strafe Cherry MX Silent keyboard and Overwatch. I went from a GTX 470 with "The Mod" (CPU AIO cooler zap strapped to the GPU) to the GTX 1060.

Soon, I found out my mATX case (formerly the NZXT Vulcan) and board my P55 system was running on (EVGA P55 Micro, i7-860 at 4Ghz) wasn't going to cut it for multimedia production up to 4K in many different ways. I gradually changed my heatsink to a be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3, then finally my case to an Air 540. My Dark Rock Pro 3 uses the stock Silent Wings fan at the exhaust side, and 2 high static pressure fans from Antec Kuhler AIO coolers I no longer use or have passed on/donated.

From then on, it was a full plunge into replacing most, if not all of my components. I got the Gigabyte X79S-UP5-WIFI and Xeon E5-1660 intending to overclock it. I slowly replaced my storage with an Seagate Enterprise Drive, a WD Gold 4TB drive, a Samsung 850 Pro 256GB, and a WD 750GB 7200RPM 2.5'' drive for Mac and Linux.

Before Nvidia released Pascal drivers for macOS, believing it was hopeless that Pascal will ever get drivers, I made another plunge to get a EVGA GTX 770 4GB Classified for Hackintosh and Linux Open Source Nouveau drivers while running Live CD boots. I removed the top metal decal for easier access to the fan shroud screws. (Why in the world would you put screws under a decal for a enthusiast/modder product!?!) I went back to a single GTX 1060 when macOS drivers for Pascal were released and Ubuntu 17.04 was released.

My old Seasonic X-760 was starting to really coil whine when there's low load with the GTX 1060 installed. So I replaced it with a quality built (by Delta Electronics) Antec High Current Pro Platinum 850W. I learned these PSUs had ended their production run, so I had to get one fast. I eventually was able to get one brand new.

Through the whole "1070/1080s exploding" debacle, I decided to put on thermal pads myself on my GTX 1060 FTW+. I'm glad I did, cause EVGA stopped honoring my card and it no longer qualified for THEIR thermal pad and VBIOS update program. So, with no ability to update the VBIOS, and running the stock ACX fans at 12V would sound like a jet engine (EVGA purposely didn't run the fans at 12V) I zap strapped 2 spare 92mm Noctua fans on. Runs quiet and is within thermal tolerances even when overclocked.

My old Antec 79CFM 120mm fans weren't as effective through the intake fan filter on the front side. They were in fact airflow fans rather than high static pressure fans. So I got one EKWB F4-120 and 2 Arctic Cooling F12 fans, with the EK fan in the center and the Arctic Cooling fans above and below it.

The drive sleds on the Air 540 are not as durable as you think. Applying too much pressure on weak spots will break the plastic very easily. I learned that the hard way and had to order replacement parts from Corsair. The clear plastic side panel's metal frame is also very flimsy so it's not the best to hold up to being tossed around a lot. Because the drive sleds are fragile, I got a Vantec EZ Swap 1 bay 5.25'' to 3.5'' hot swap bay and installed a Fractal Design R3 40mm fan in the fan spot in the bay adapter. I placed this above my Blu-ray drive and removed 2 gaskets to allow airflow from the primary chamber to cool 3.5'' 7200RPM drives I might use in that hot swap bay.

I don't run LEDs in my case. I care about functionality, horsepower and flexibility rather than looks. In fact, I find the LEDs on the 770 Classified a little distracting.

A word of warning if you intend to use the Strafe keyboard on macOS or Linux. It hangs the OS boot sequence at a certain point and you have to unplug the keyboard and re-plug it in to continue the boot sequence faster. Leaving it and waiting sometimes results in a non-functional keyboard once booted into macOS or Linux. You can update the firmware of the keyboard by downloading the Corsair utility for their gaming keyboards (but it's Windows only. Come on Corsair, offer a firmware upgrade option for Linux users too!) and it SOMETIMES solves these issues, but not all the time.

I have a full guide to installing macOS Sierra on the X79S-UP5-WIFI on Reddit here: https://www.reddit.com/r/hackintosh/comments/5ptnm3/build_log_still_in_progress_gax79sup5wifi_and/

Very satisfied with this build. I now have the X79 system I've always wanted.

Footnote: This system gets 11711 in Fire Strike, 1190 in Cinebench R15 multicore and 161 in Cinebench R15 single core at 4.6Ghz with 4 sticks of RAM. Afterwards, I got another 16GB of HyperX RAM and couldn't push past DDR3-1866 anymore running 32GB with all slots occupied without issues. If I was going to try to make 1866 stable, I would have lost too much latency, so I relented and undid all my memory OCs to run my memory at 1600mhz to keep an OC on my Xeon, but I still had to back down to 4.5Ghz. But this turned out to be for not because my VTT/IMC voltages were too high, degrading my processor. I'm in the process of replacing the processor and getting 2 2x8GB kits to only occupy 4 slots.

Footnote 2: Managed to reach 4.6Ghz again for about a week after I got my 2 2x8GB kit, before I made the mistake again of too high VTT and System Agent voltages, and once again degrading that CPU, but not enough to be unstable at stock. Turns out Sandy Bridge-E's IMC is so weak, the only way you can be stable at higher memory frequencies than it supports stock is to only use 2 sticks of low density. (a 2x4GB kit of 2133mhz for example) If you go with 32GB+, stick to DDR3-1600. Don't go above 1600 or push the IMC too far with too much System Agent, you will degrade your CPU. Safe System Agent voltages is 0.9 to 1.175v with 1.2v being the hard limit. Gigabyte labelled System Agent as "IMC," which confused me into thinking that it's necessary to raise that voltage. It isn't. VTT is what you raise to stabilize memory and the IMC. Have yet another processor being shipped and will settle this once and for all.

Part Reviews

CPU

Managed to get a clean pull of this processor for $155 on eBay. This processor has just reached EOL so server farms are selling off these processors by the boatload, and they're unlocked so you can OC them on the appropriate motherboard.

One forewarning though: Because this is essentially a 3960X, even though the Intel ARK says it supports it, it doesn't go all the way up to PCI-E 3.0. You're stuck with PCI-E 2.0 bandwidth even though you have enough lanes. The higher end part, the V2 version of this processor which is the 4960X counterpart with PCI-E 3.0 support, is still an active part according to Intel ARK so prices won't come down on those for another year.

Also, the more slots you occupy or the denser the RAM you use, the difficulty of OCing goes up exponentially. You will require WAY more Vcore with 8 slots occupied compared to 4 or 2, but be VERY CAREFUL with VTT/IMC voltages and never exceed 1.2V or you will degrade your processor.

Otherwise, this is a great alternative to a i7 Extreme Edition processor that also supports ECC RAM.

CPU Cooler

When paired with high CFM/static pressure fans, this thing is a beast. Even when I accidentally forgot to power those fans on, ZERO CPU THROTTLING OVERCLOCKED in a high airflow case.

This thing is right up there with thick radiator single fan closed loop AIO cooling when the fans are turned up to max. I prefer it to the Noctua D-14.

If you own a LGA 2011 system though, installation might be tricky. Don't use the supplied wrench and instead use needlenose pliers to tighten the nut and screws to the LGA2011 bracket. Also, fully tighten the heatsink nuts or it will strike the processor on transport and cause problems if it has to be transported when the system is powered on.

Highly recommended for air cooled builds!

Motherboard

Best X79 board, by far.

With official Xeon support using the C606 chipset, this board can OC unlocked Xeons to the same level or beyond their i7 Extreme Edition counterparts.

This board is officially supported by the Hackintosh crowd so DSDTs and SSDTs exist for this board if you are new to Hackintosh.

Individual fuses on each USB port are VERY handy in the rare case you have a device pulling too much power from the bus.

Dual BIOS is a MUST, plus USB BIOS flashing allows you to have both a beta BIOS and a release BIOS on the same board.

Only real wish is that the USB 3.0 front panel pins be shifted 90 degrees to be in the orientation of the SATA ports, but that's a very minor gripe.

Very satisfied with this board!

Storage

Went from a 5-6 year old Intel X25-M to this and I can tell you going from maxing out SATA II to maxing out SATA III is VERY noticeably faster. If you already own a SATA II SSD and you recently upgraded to SATA III capable motherboards, clone your OS to a Samsung SSD and you will notice the difference.

To maintain maximum OS compatibility, I opted to go with an SSD instead of NVMe and SATA 6G rather than PCIE. While I lose out on the highest end storage options, I keep my balance with compatibility due to the SATA protocol.

Definite buy if you are upgrading your rig for the first time from SATA II to SATA III.

Case

When I decided a long time ago to seek a X79 build down the line, I had my case decision already made up. Now I have one. The Air 540 was exactly what I expected and wanted out of a high airflow case.

Unlike the 240 and 740, the 540 still has 2 5.25'' bays for Optical drives or 3.5'' hot swap bay adapters. I still use optical media and I wanted an extra 3.5'' hot swap bay, and with the Air 540, I have those options available to me.

A warning about 2 things: The clear plastic side panel's metal frame is very flimsy. It cannot take being banged around a lot so be fragile with it. Be fragile with the tool-less 3.5'' hot swap sleds, and the female SATA power connector in the back for the hot swap connector can break easily too.

Minor gripes aside, this case was everything I could want out of a EATX supporting case.

Power Supply

Rock solid voltages, the ability to choose which 12V rail goes to which component, and solid Delta Electronics construction mean this is a must buy for power hungry X79 and X99 systems.

Antec is in the midst of pulling out of the premium PSU market so get these while you still can. I believe production has ceased on these units so if you can find one, get one now!

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Comments

  • 33 months ago
  • 2 points

+1 for Western Digital Gold

  • 5 months ago
  • 2 points

I just love this build.

Totally not because of the cat though. I also appreciate the good photos in here, 1+.

  • 29 months ago
  • 1 point

HOLY COW! Thats a long parts list. Cant belive you're running an air cooler on that cpu, I for one cannot recommend aircooling anything that has more than 4 cores.

Nice and stout hackintosh, this is way more powerfull than anything they're selling right now.

  • 29 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, on 4 sticks I could run 4.6Ghz and not break a sweat. On 8 sticks though, I had to move to a 280mm AIO. I put that air cooler in another build.

The Dark Rock Pro 3 does a great job though, just it wasn't enough for all 8 RAM slots filled up.

  • 29 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

Very impressive, how many cats per second?

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

2300 cats per second.