Dave's Monster Build is done!

UPDATE: Check out my newest build called Dave’s Beast I did 18 months after this one.

Thank everyone and all the videos. I got so many comments and I read all of them, I did a lot of research after that video asking for advise and I made some changes to the list.

OK, I have never done a computer build before, so many of you wrote in that I have to try it, it is easy they say, well let’s see how easy it is. If you are watching this to know how it is done you might turn this video off now, I have never done this before.

If I make a mistake I will be sure to point it out.

Final Parts List (updated 3/12/14)

  • i7-3930k 3.2g 6 core at $569. I picked this because of the 6 cores with hyper threading act like 12 cores. This is good for rendering my projects quickly. I have a hope that my render time will get cut in half from my current setup.
  • ASUS P9X79 Pro motherboard at $300, it has 8 DIMM’s so I can have 64G of RAM if I want to. Right now I am sticking to 32GB.
  • 1600MHz 32GB of RAM I wanted to get faster RAM than this of over clocking but I got confused when I read the mother board manual on which RAM was qualified so I went with RAM I know others have used with this motherboard since I saw one comment that their 1866MHz RAM didn’t work.
  • GTX 680 “FTW” 4gb version which costs $560. In the comments I got some many conflicting advice on this piece of equipment, which actually might be the most important in terms of video editing. So I read up on the Adobe and Black Magic’s site and also talked with some colorist that spend all day in DaVinci Resolve and they said this was the card to get.
  • Corsair H100i liquid cooler with two Noctua NF-F12-PWM fans I watched a video from Linus Tech Tips on cooling and he had an awesome video on this and which fans to use. After watching that video it was very clear what to get.
  • Fractal Design Define R4 I went back and forth on this one, but after watching a few people’s builds with this case, I went with this one.
  • CORSAIR HX Series HX750 750W  I had to return this one because it made some weird fan noises.  I replaced it with Seasonic SS-760XP ATX which is nice an quiet and 80PLUS Platinum Certified, I notice that is runs the same tasks as the other PSU but at slightly less wattages.
  • Corsair Force Series GT CSSD 240GB SSD drive for my OS and programs (Windows 7 and Adobe CC).
  • Update: For my ‘M:’ media drive, I am now using the Samsung 840 EVO SSD 1TB drive which is wicked fast using the new RAPID feature, I am getting 900MB/s reads and writes. This works great for when you have a multi-cam edit or layers of video tracks streaming all at the same time.
  • I have two 3TB HDD hard drives for backups within my system and one 1TB drive for exporting my videos as well.
  • Kingston 480GB SSD for my scratch drive. You do not need an SSD this large for a scratch drive, 32GB would be plenty. I got this one because it will also work great in Black Magic Cinema camera when I need it for that.
  • Windows 7 Pro since I need to address all 32GB of RAM.

OK let’s build it and see I f*ck it up at all. My guess is I will have some missing parts. If you see me in different shirts, more than one day.

Some people are going to think this is overkill, but I call it future proofing. I want to do more After Effects and I think within 18 months I might be shooting in a RAW format at a much higher resolution than I do now. Think about how much your camera and lenses cost, then think how much time you spend behind the computer compared to how much you spend shooting – shouldn’t your computer be more than your camera?

The Build

  • I really like this Fractal case, it is really well built and has excellent noise dampening on both side panels. You can remove the upper disk drive bay and actually rotate it if you want for better air movement from the front fan, it was also nice to take it out so you have more room to work with.
  • Before mounting the motherboard I installed the 6 standoffs that came with the case.
  • Since I don’t own a wrist strap, here you can see me trying to ground the static after I picked up the MB, what was I thinking?
  • Before putting the MB in the case I wanted to install the CPU and the RAM first. I watched a lot of people on YT do this, so I followed what they did in terms on the opening it up. I tried to be very careful when pressing on the MB because I didn’t want to crack any of the traces.
  • I removed the CPU cover plate next.
  • Taking it out of the plastic case and only touching the sides was not easy
  • Even after I said not to touch it, what did I do, i touched it!
  • Closing it up was a little nerve racking because it required a lot more force than I thought, the ‘V’ shaped one was OK but the ‘u’ shaped one was harder than I thought, I was expecting to hear something snap!
  • Next up I installed the ram, this was easy since I have done it before, but I didn’t get the 4th in all the way and had to re-seat it later after I noticed the system only had 24g.
  • After putting in the MB side plate it was time to put the MB in.
  • I put in the standoffs for the Cooler, I had to stop at this point because there is a mistake in the Corsair manual on which one to use, but I got to talk with a tech at Corsair and they help me.
  • Next up I install the radiator again for the second time now that the MB is in.
  • Then I re-watched Linus’s video again and noticed that his fans were on top blowing the air out, so for the 3rd time I installed the radiator and fans.
  • Finally I got to install the cooler to the cpu, since it already has thermal paste I got to skip that step which was nice. But since I touched the CPU I had to clean it off with rubbing alcohol.
  • I took my time and made sure each screw had even pressure on the cpu.
  • Next up was the PSU, the Corsair 750 is not full modular but close, so after screwing it in a started running the cables. I would later come to find out that this PSU has a annoying feature, every 5 minutes the fan would go from off to full blast for 3 seconds and then turn off again, I called Corsair and they said it was designed that way, I told him that I would rather have the fan on all the time at a low speed, so I replaced it with a better PSU.
  • Next up I installed the GPU which was another mistake, I should’ve saved this until last because it was hard connecting the wires around in on the MB.
  • I didn’t buy a DVD so I stole one out of my old computer, I was thinking of giving away my old computer on a FB contest, but my sister saw my post and she said she wanted it, sorry family comes first.
  • Installing the DVD was pretty easy.
  • Next I installed my old hard drives, which I ended up re-arranging them several times, I then printed labels for the each, the media drive, the preview drive, the OS drive and the export drive.
  • I connected the front and rear fans to the mb, but later I ended up connecting them to the case fan controller because for some reason I could not get the fan speed down low enough using the BIOS and other programs.
  • There were lots of connection to make and I was happy that I had all the cables I needed.
  • I tried to make the messy side panel to look good, but I couldn’t so put the panel back on.
  • After fixing the fan issue, I ran a bunch of tests to find the right balance of fan noise to cooling after I overclocked the CPU and GPU.
  • I found that turning the front and rear fans down to 400 rpm and running the top radiator fans at 700 rpm with a profile in the Corsairlink2 software was the balance I was looking for.
  • With these setting during a long render the CPU ran at 58C and the GPU at 65c and the motherboard at 36C.
  • At idle the CPU ran at 39C and the GPU at 37c and the motherboard at 32C.
  • In terms of backup I use external hard drives via my Esata and have both onsite and offsite backup of my media drive.
  • This new computer which I have labeled Dave’s Monster is faster than my old one, how much faster, not sure yet, I’m going to wait a few weeks until I have made a lot of tweaks before I publishing my results. But it definitely feels faster and has solved some issues I was having with Premiere and Davinci in the past.
  • First off I would like to thank Harm Millaard for helping with my disk setup,  Juan Salvo and Dave over at Studio1Productions on the graphics card, Michelangelo Girardi for the opening bumper to this video, Linus Sebastian for the help on the fans, Paul at Newegg, Will the UnknownLobster for showing me how it is done.
  • So how much did this all cost? $2,385. For those who say that is overkill, let me ask you what percentage of the time do you shoot with your camera and how much time are you behind the computer editing? If you are like me I am spending a lot more time behind the computer, this computer cost less than my 5D3 body. Even if it gives me just a small amount of speed benefit, I’ll take it!
  • And for those who will comment, Get a Mac, I priced out a comparable system for the Mac Pro and it came in $3,000 more. I have nothing against macs, except for the “Apple tax”.

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Dave's Monster Computer Build


  • I had fun watching this even though I’m a Apply fan boy. So, m not going to tell you buy a Mac, but I do wonder if I could Hackintosh it? Hmm…

    Great stuff, Dave!

  • Nice work Dave. I have a similar Sandy Bridge-E setup – Core i7 3930K and Asus P9X79 setup with 4x8GB G.Skill or 32GB DDR3 memory, but with an old Geforce GTX 260 and old Intel 80GB X-25M G2 SSD for the OS (and various 2TB and 3TB disks for media). Also the Fractal case is very versatile to fit 8 x 3.5″ (or 2.5″) hard drives (imagine having 4×8 or 32TB of drives before raid) What was your final disk config?

  • Thanks Dave, just checked out your YT video on your generic disk setup. I think it looks like a good setup as basically it’s a physical separation (independent spindles or SSDs for different items like OS and apps, media/video files, media cache [audio pek previews], etc).

    The Fractal gives you tons of room for expansion for more disks, when the 3TB drive runs out of space.

    If you need tons of disks (whether RAID or individual JBOD), a case that I use to hold drives is the Norco RPC-4224 case, which can fit 24 hard drives, along with a ATX or EATX motherboard (you’ll need some HBA card, whether RAID or JBOD as well) – http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811219038 — Linus from LinusTechTips uses this case for his media storage. And Linus has some crazy 10GigE setup from editing machine to his storage/media machine also.

  • Hey Dave,

    I really enjoy reading/ watching your posts.

    I need some advice, I’m wanting to jump-into the indie film making as a hobby.

    My questions are:
    1. What ‘low end’ (sub $1000) camera & lens would be good to start with?
    2. What’d be a good cheap, but good all-around (for documentary/interviewing and drama vid) mic
    3. what are the minimum ‘must haves’ in a computer (for editing)
    4. cheap, but powerful software
    5. best for least expensive way to capture audio on DSLR/camcorder w/o XLR input.

    I am willing to buy good and working used/refurbished equipment. Would like to keep the whole production budget under $5000.

    sorry for the long comment.


  • I had previously built just about the same setup as you. I went for the 64 gigs of ram which makes a big difference in After Effects. The system overclocks to 4.5 ghz but I normally run it at 4.3 ghz.

  • Hi Dave,

    Great video! Was wondering if you could give me more perspective.

    I am stuck in between getting a PC or a Dslr. I am really interested in getting more out of my photography. But at the same time, I just want to work on some vfx stuff in my own time too. What say you? I currently own a Canon 550D.


  • Dave, great video of your build! There’s certainly a feeling of accomplishment that comes with building things yourself. Those who don’t DIY are missing out. Keep up the good work.

    I’m also looking forward to your review of the Carry Speed VF-3. I love mine and now consider it to be one of the essential pieces of my rig.


    – To Perry, you can do an awful lot with a 550D. Beef up your computer if needed and then look at other gear to use with your camera – better tripod, lenses, lights, viewfinder, slider, etc. All this makes most any current DSLR into surprisingly powerful tool for video work. It just takes practice.

  • I built a very similar computer for me a month ago. I am looking for the right “low-cost but still pro” monitor,
    Any ideas?

  • Great Build Dave and you are probably the most helpful guy out there at the net.
    Its the little things that can make a difference like the 3.00 USB external card reader.I was going to go with a internal card reader which would have used up 2 valuable sata ports on the mother board.I think you changed to the Fractal case as it has front 3.00 USB and the original Phantom had only 2.00 front USB.That’s my guess.
    Will be going with a very similar system to yours and thank you kindly for your hard work and in depth research.
    I am sure you will be doing a follow up on disk layout which I found to be the most difficult decision to make.Going to go with
    this layout after reading all the build submissions over at the Adobe Hardware forums.
    C: OS and Program SAMSUNG 840 Pro 256GB ssd
    D: Media & Projects 2x WD 1TB Raid 0
    E: Exports & previews. 2x WD 1TB Raid 0
    F: Temp files, media cache, Global Cache (for After effects)
    SAMSUNG 840 Pro 256GB ssd
    Going to give this disk setup a shot and let you know how it works.

  • I’m curious why you went with the GTX 680 “FTW” 4gb version over a Quadro 4000. I’m About to build another monster machine and all I’ve read is that the Quadro is the way to go. But, if the 680 is superior, I’m all ears.

  • Looks fine , personally don’t like water cooling, and , tell us about GPU Temp under heavy load after one Hour, please. because I think you will end up with water cooling for you GPU, ¡ Forgot a pool ! but you have it so let us know on that point.
    Also after testing the SSD and a 250 GB Velociraptor for OS, went with the Velociraptor. Just my taste, and several my passport usb 3.0 for external storage.
    So despite some things don’t go with me , I learnes a lot from your set up and your mistakes and that is non only valuable, but expensive. Thanks Dave

  • My hard drives set up
    OS Velociraptor 250
    Media Velociraptor 1 TB
    Render Velociraptor 1 TB
    Files not in use , several my passport usb 3.0 1 and 2 TB

  • This is a good video to watch. I tried to build my own PC before, but failed, so it was comforting to hear that this was your first time.

    I’d love to build something like this eventually, but the parts are out of my budget right now.

  • Great video Dave! Really loved it! 🙂

    I will love to see some videos about your paid jobs you get from video, especially about real estate videos. 🙂

  • Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the shout out in the video. The video was great. Tonight or over this weekend I will post of link to the video and your site in the Adobe Premiere Video Card article and in my blog.

    Great job.

    David Knarr
    Studio 1 Productions

  • Hey Dave,
    Just had a quick question on fan control direction.
    Take a look at this from Asus folks channel ware they talk about pulling in air on the top to cool the mother board and using the front and back fans as exhaust,is that the way you set up yous.
    go to 8.56
    I think and I could be wrong but you may have set it yours up to pull air out when they reccomend to pull air in and use the front and rear fans to exhaust.

  • @Murph I have watched that one before. I could be wrong on the setup but since Linus did it that way and he has much more experience than I do I will leave it that way until I have time to test it both ways to see which one provides the cooler temp.

  • You did an awesome job for your first build! I have 2 recommendations, check out http://www.tigerdirect.com for parts in addition to newegg. Also consider an ultra modular power supplies they are very reliable and a big feature is the life time warranty you get just by registering the product.

  • Hi Dave,
    Great video once again. I do appreciate the extra time you invest in putting these videos together. I’m also a mac user, but from a cost standpoint, I can totally understand why you took the direction you did. One question though… why didn’t you take the opportunity to go to Windows 8?

  • Nice build.

    I’m also a Mac user and I know they aren’t for everyone. You’ve got to be comfortable in your working environment whether it is virtual or physical.

    This video gives me hopes to build a Hackintosh in the future. It would be the best of both worlds for me.

  • Dave,
    I’m a big fan (longtime lurker, first time commenter). I’m so glad I procrastinated on my next build (more like, gave up after being overwhelmed by the options). This looks like a solid build and will serve my purposes well. I did have one question, since I’ve already placed everything you have here in my newegg wish list, could you elaborate on the Corsair standoff issue? You may be able to save me from having to make the same phone call.

    Keep doin’ what you’re doin’

  • Hey Dave.
    Longtime lurker, but I’ve been enjoying your videos for a while. This was a great build video, and especially helpful for me because I’ve been spec-ing out a new system that is nearly identical to the one you built (a couple different parts brands is all).
    Glad to see it come together so smoothly.
    Keep the videos coming, and thanks!

  • Hi, Dave, great read and very heartening to know you can get that much power without spending a fortune.
    I’m a motion graphics artist and I do a lot of work in 3D applications, especially Maxon’s Cinema 4D.
    I was wondering if you could give me an idea as to the power of this machine by running Cinema’s CineBench Benchmark Test on it and sharing the results.
    The test itself takes maybe five minutes to complete and it gives you a rating for both your CPU and GPU.
    Here’s the link to more information on the test itself:
    You can find the link to download the test at the very bottom of the screen.
    I know this is a lot to ask, but if you could do this I think it would be of great use to me and any other motion graphics/3D artists out there looking to build their own PCs.
    Thanks in advance and keep up the good work.

  • I agree with you regarding the pwer supply. I have a Seasonic X-Series 560 watt Gold rated power supply with a single ATI 6950 video card. With power supplies, wattage is important,but a more important concern is its performance under load. You should be fine.

  • Hi Dave,
    thank you for your video!
    I’ll build my own PC like you do :).
    Are you still happy with all components?

  • Hi Dave,

    Thanks for your video.

    i’m a mac user and recently I bought a Canon 650D for the videofunction.
    On my Mac BookPro editing the 650D footage want work.
    My question for you: would it be possible to run Mac OSX Snow Leopard on that machine en make it a Hackintosh?

    Sorry for my English, i’m from Belgium

  • Hi Dave nice vid. Did you consider that SSD have a hi fail rate. This is the only reason I did not get SSD yet. I’m scared to have a drive fail in the middle of a larg project. My projects sometime are tp large to riske having to loose it all. Thanks.

  • Hey Dave awesome video, I am definitely considering building this when Tax season comes around lol. I did have a question though on the link for the mother board you provide it says it is out of stock and a newer version of the item is available. It gives this link ASUS P9X79 LGA 2011 Intel X79. This one does not say “Pro” and I didn’t know whether it really is the same thing or not (never built a computer before and kind of timid). Thanks in advance and thanks for your posts 🙂

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