The 2019 Editing Rig
January 10, 2019
I've always been told that dust can be harmful to a PC, leading to components overheating or even causing shorts if left too long. Turns out that in rare cases the cleaning process can actually shift dust deeper into components. After a full rebuild of my system recently I was greeted with a flash of light and loud "pop" from the power supply when I powered it back on.
Hoping it was just the PSU I bought a replacement locally and swapped it out but the system still wouldn't POST. After some investigating it looked like the motherboard had a faulty RAM slot so I pulled the DIMM and all was well enough to use the system again.
Fast forward two weeks and the graphics card then called it quits. Not being one to throw good money after bad - and compounded with the increased photo sizes coming out of my new camera and high bit rate 4K video editing causing the Skylake processor to struggle - I bit the bullet and started from scratch with another build. Well, almost from scratch.
My original reasons for buying the NZXT S340 were still a priority - simple, easy to build, good quality and minimalist. As such I decided to keep the old case for the new system build. With a bit of a twist, that is. More to come....
Since the PSU was what led to the entire rebuild by basically exploding I should probably have tried a different brand but as I bought it locally the only options I had were both from EVGA again. Fingers crossed this BQ 750 W fares better than its predecessor.
Trying a different brand of motherboard this time and the Z390 Taichi from ASRock ticked all my boxes, including 3 M.2 ports and 8 SATA ports which should allow for some additional RAID flexibility.
Last time around I compromised and settled on an i5 due to cost. The i5 really struggled with 4K video and large Photoshop files. This time, other than stepping up to either an X299 or Xeon platform, there will be no compromising. The new i9-9900k from Intel is a 5Ghz, 8 core, 16 thread monster that should easily handle most workloads. AMD Threadripper was a tempting alternative but the relatively poor single core performance over the Intel chips seems to hurt it a bit when using Adobe products.
The 240mm AIO from Corsair performed admirably but still ran hotter than I wanted at around 50°C idle and would even jump to nearly 100° under heavy load. This time around I decided to bump up the radiator size and try the EVGA CLC 280mm AIO. While a 360 may have been nice it also wouldn't have fit into my existing case so we'll save that upgrade for the next system update. So far temps are impressively low, idling in the low 30s and hitting a high of only 75° under serious stress (content aware filling a large portion of a 378 megapixel panorama in Photoshop). Definitely a huge improvement!
The 4x8 32Gb kit of Corsair Vengeance LPX worked great last time but occasionally maxed out when working with extremely large Photoshop files, especially with numerous Chrome tabs also open. For this build I've gone with a 4x16 64Gb kit of G.Skill Trident Z DDR4 memory, also bumped to 3200Mhz. It's the max available on this platform so hopefully will be more than enough.
The last system featured a relatively new type of solid state drive in an m.2 form factor. While it was nice to have it wasn't any faster than your average 2.5" SSD. This time I'm going for the same m.2 form factor but the Samsung 970 Evo in this build is the NVMe version which is significantly faster. I also opted to double the size to allow for more performance-sensitive programs to be installed.
Nothing's changing with respect to the working drive this time as the drive health on the Sandisk SSDs is still reported at 100%. I'm happy to take the risk of not having any redundancy here as files on this array are imported both here and onto a RAID 1 mirror at the same time. On top of that I have a backup subscription with Backblaze that keeps everything backed up online within minutes of it being imported.
I've opted for two separate RAID 1 (...ish) setups on this build. The first 8Tb mirror is motherboard managed using Intel RST and contains all my work related media - photos and videos, both raw and edited.
The second is also an 8Tb mirror but utilises Windows Storage Spaces as they are external drives. As this array contains media for Plex consumption having them in external enclosures means I can grab a drive and carry it anywhere for direct connection to another multimedia setup.
This was a pretty big compromise last time but as graphics cards are often the single most expensive component in a PC build it was here that I had to cut costs. While I don't do much gaming I still do a little and the GTX 960 - apart from now being totally unresponsive - was getting a little long in the tooth. Graphics cards also help out in my main area of work, namely photo and video editing.
While still a compromise I don't feel my choice of the Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2070 8 GB is as much this time for a couple of reasons. Firstly I'm buying this very close to its launch date meaning it won't be outdated nearly as soon as the 960 was. It also outperforms all previous generation cards with the exception of the GTX 1080 Ti, which costs several hundred dollars more.
Definitely in the works but haven't had the time to get to it just yet.
So far this thing is a beast. Multiple Chrome windows, each with 20+ tabs open (some playing YouTube), running Lightroom and Photoshop all while playing the occasional game in 4K, and nothing has caused it to miss a beat yet. I'm also REALLY pleased at the cooling performance of the larger radiator and fans.
Stability is also impressive with a three week up-time and counting. My old system didn't get much past 4 days without a random blue screen and I'm now convinced the motherboard had a temperamental RAM slot from new.
Really glad I went with the specs I chose and hopefully this will last for a few years to come.