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Last Night's Ultimate PC Live Bench Build

Pete Brown - 30 July 2010

Last night, I (with help from you all) did a prototype bench build of the Ultimate Dev Machine 2.0. I made some dumb mistakes (like forgetting to remove the plastic from the bottom of the heat sink; glad I remembered before I powered it up), but it went reasonably well.



  • Bunch of interested folks on ustream, all watching progress and helping out. That was awesome. Thanks to everyone who dropped in!
  • Installed Windows 7 Ultimate from a thumb drive. If you want to make a bootable thumb drive, this is an excellent tutorial.
  • A full Windows 7 Ultimate x64 install, from thumb drive to SSD, took under 9 minutes. It was blazing fast, even with the extra reboot that tacked a minute on there.
  • The motherboard has onboard power and reset buttons - awesome for bench testing.


  • Umm, yeah, so I forgot to remove the plastic from the bottom of the heat sink. Oops! Luckily I fixed it before powering up.
  • Forgetting to remove the USB stick cost me a full reboot in the total Windows 7 install time. (it booted the USB stick instead of the drive)
  • The Crucial C300 doesn't include any SATA III cables. It's a SATA III drive; that's one of its big selling points. It was a full retail box, not an OEM blister. The Gigabyte board includes sonly SATA II cables; its support for SATA III is one of its big selling points.. Given I bought an SSD and a motherboard that each costs as much as a laptop, I'm really annoyed at this. Lame. (this is a possible cause for getting only a 7.4 WEI with this drive, when Scott got a 7.9 with the same model)
  • Windows 7 install hung on just displaying wallpaper. Turns out the reason was that I didn't have a 3.5" drive connected, but it is configured in the BIOS. Lameness here is two-part:
    • Gigabyte, why would you offer the most expensive single-proc motherboard in history, with TONS of enthusiast features, and then leave a 3.5" floppy drive configured below the fold on a page in the BIOS? Lame.
    • Windows team: Hanging because a 3.5" drive is configured but not present? Lame.
  • The ATI card came in with WEI of 1.0. I knew it would come in low and need drivers, but was surprised that it came in as standard VGA.

[Update 2010-07/31: Apparently Crucial offers the C300 in two retail kits: the first is bare bones. The second runs $20 more and includes cables, CDs, etc. Lame that the stores only seem to carry the bare bones kit]


  • One of the participants mentioned that for a bench build, I should ground that heat sink to an outlet ground (that's the wire on the heat sink). If my case had a removable motherboard try, it would have been easier. Took me a bit to find a reasonable place to attach the grounding wire. If you do bench builds, what do you do about grounding?

Next Steps

This bench build was air-cooled only, using the stock cooler. I may get the SATA III cable and do a Win7 install and some tests one last time before water cooling, just to set a baseline.

Once that is done, I'll install the cooling gear and everything in the case, leak test for a night or so, then proceed with the real build.

Videos and Related

You can watch the videos on ustream here:

The full hardware selection is available here:

posted by Pete Brown on Friday, July 30, 2010
filed under:    

8 comments for “Last Night's Ultimate PC Live Bench Build”

  1. Hurr durrsays:
    Was it you or Scott that I busted on for picking ATI over NVidia? ATI's drivers SUCK. However good their hardware is, their drivers will ALWAYS be their greatest weakness.
  2. jmcecilsays:
    I'm also water cooling a very similar configuration. I'm having the same problem with the C300. I'm getting a 7.4 using the SATA III port on the UD9 motherboard. I purchased a SATA III cable and still had the same score. If you resolve the issue, I'd be interested in how you did it.
  3. Petesays:

    It's related to the ports and what drivers get installed during install. You need to do a clean OS install with the C300 on the intel SATA port. Once the OS has been installed, you can switch it over to the Marvell port. Do not install Marvell drivers; they are the cause of the speed issue.

    Before the install, make sure all SATA ports are set up in ACHI and native mode in the BIOS.

    Without overclocking your CPU (SSD perf is related to CPU perf) you'll likely get only 7.7 or 7.8. With an overclock, you should see 7.9.

  4. Petesays:
    @Hurr durr

    Me :)

    However, Scott's NVidia card was a huge pile of suck. It had a known (to nvidia) problem where the minute you plug in a second monitor, the heat goes through the roof. A major hardware issue that can only be patched (not fixed) in software.

  5. jmcecilsays:
    I did manage to get my CPU to 4.44 GHZ without any trouble. The bump actually pushed the memory far enough to get a 7.9. But, alas, the CPU is still 7.8. Any idea what THz (TerraHertz) are required to get a 7.9?

    Thanks for the info on the install process. I'll give that a try. Installing from USB stick is awesome.

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