Saturday, August 15, 2015

The possibility of upgrading my PC to a Haswell-E setup

Couple of days ago I posted on Facebook how I chickened out from delidding my Devil's Canyon chip. A friend told me that it would be beneficial for me to upgrade to Haswell-E instead. Haswell-E die is soldered to the IHS so it shouldn't run at a temperature as high as Devil's Canyon. And I get at least two more cores to play with.

There is a huge barrier for entry due to price

I checked the prices of the Core i7 5820K (because the 5930K is useless and the 5960X is out of reach), ASRock X99E-ITX/ac Mini-ITX motherboard (the only X99 Mini-ITX board out there) and 16GB of DDR4 2666 sticks.

  • CPU: ~ JPY 50,000
  • Motherboard: ~ JPY 37,000
  • RAM: ~ JPY 18,000

That would total out to around JPY 105,000. Expensive, but that’s what you have to pay for cutting edge. But it all depends on how much I can make from selling my existing stuff.

I checked the offers on Sofmap store and  it was disappointing.  Very disappointing. I would only receive around JPY 50,000 in total for my Core i7 4790K CPU, Asus Z97i-Plus board and A-DATA DDR3-2400 16GB memory. That’s an insanely low amount. No way I am going to sell my stuff to these shops.

However, shops aren’t the only place I can sell them. I can auction them online. However, since these are all used parts, I bet I won’t be able to extend this to JPY 70,000 mark. JPY 60,000 is possible, but it will take a long time because I have three components to sell. And if I sell at least one of them, I would have passed the point of no return.

Would there be any real benefits?

Now, let’s say I somehow managed to sell my existing stuff for a reasonable amount. Do I really get anything out of the upgrade?

Sure, I will be increasing the CPU core count by 50%. But it won’t reflect in games. Heck, I am not even sure if I would be able to clock the 5820K to 4.5GHz. It might reach 4.6GHz or it might not even reach 4.4GHz. I am usually very unlucky with chips.

However there is one area that the X99 can excel over the Z97 platform: faster M.2 performance. On the Z97 platform, M.2 bandwidth is limited to 10Gbps where as on the X99 it is only limited to 32Gbps. There are products, namely the Samsung SM951 series that can be easily bottlenecked by the 10Gbps limitation. But this is only applicable if I am ready to dump more cash into a SM951 SSD, which is not even on the list.

The cooler will have to be replaced

OK, let’s say the chip managed to at least match the clock speed of my Devil’s Canyon chip which is 4.5GHz. That means I would at least not lose any performance. How can I cool the CPU? The Antec Kuhler 620 AIO water cooler I currently use it, in my opinion, not fit for the job. I'll definitely have to buy a new cooler.

But that's fine because I plan to buy one eventually. However there is a problem. I doubt a thin radiator like the NZXT Kraken x31 would be enough to cool it properly. I will need something like the Corsair H80i which has a thicker radiator. But that adds a significant amount of mass into overall weight of the PC. It's a problem because I made my PC smaller for the sole purpose of making it very light.

The PC will transform into an oven

Even if I manage to tame the CPU temps somehow without adding too much weight to the PC, what about the extra heat output that gets dumped straight in the case? The Core i7 5820K outputs roughly 50% more power than the 4790K at similar clock speeds. This of course is if 50% more cores are utilized, for example in a video transcoding scenario. That can be about 100W. What would it do to the components inside my PC?

Unless I get a fan like the Delta AFB1212GHE-CF00 which pushes air at a rate of 240CFM, I won’t be able to get that heat out of the case. The Silverstone SG13 case doesn’t have room for any exhaust fans, so this single fan in the front will have to push the heat out of the case on its own. The PSU fan can partially carry the burden of active exhaust. Rest is passive exhaust through the vents around the case due to positive pressure. (Have you heard that Delta fan at full blast? You can check it out here. It is a definite NO NO.)

It is not great even with the 4790K. But that is part due to the messy cable management job I’ve done. I just tucked the cables in because I was planning to get a new PSU and did not want to spend too much time cleaning up the internals with the currently PSU. But I have ordered the new PSU and I will route the cables properly when I install it.

And the verdict?

All in all, I feel this upgrade isn't worth the upgrade cost and time I would have to spend on it. It'll be advisable for me to stick with what I have. Some day I will build a bigger PC with no compromises and then I'll go for the Intel's enthusiast platform. Or AMD's, whichever is on top at that time.

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