LOUQE Ghost S1 (Re)Build Log

ebc92

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Mar 4, 2018
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I always intended to write a build log for my Ghost S1, but I never got around to it the first time around.

However, my list of pending modifications has been snowballing ever since the announcement of the 65W TDP Ryzen 3700X.
I figured this would make a good opportunity to write a rebuild log.

I originally pre-ordered the case early may last year, and after 8 long months of waiting it finally arrived on my doorstep.
It was from the first batch, so I was a little bit anxious unboxing it, not sure what imperfections to expect.

You often hear SFF enthusiasts say there is no such thing as an endgame case. While I do agree - If there was such a thing, for me, this case would be it.
The build quality is immaculate, and the anodized olive green (pangaea) finish and copper top grill sets it apart from all other cases i have owned.
The case and its condition was perfect apart from a minor imperfection on the copper grill.

Original specifications:
  • Mobo: ASUS Strix B450-I
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 2400G
  • Cooler: Noctua NH-L12
  • GPU: GeForce GTX 1080 FE
  • Memory: 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX, 3000MHz@CL15
  • Storage: 1TB Samsung 970 EVO SSD
  • PSU: Corsair SF450 Gold
I went with a 2400G because I have been experimenting with VFIO and GPU passthrough.
The APU on this chip is impressive to say the least!

I had already sourced all the parts in time for the delivery of the case, even the custom sleeved cables.
Since I had all the parts and had been planning out this build for the past 8 months I was able to assemble the build in a matter of hours, if not minutes.

The build does run a little bit hot, but overall I'm very happy with this build, though i've been having some stability issues with the RAM.
They do not clear memtest passes on their rated speeds (hardly any speeds for that matter), so I will RMA these in time for the rebuild.


Pangaea finish. It's really hard to do the finish justice - the case colors changes heavily depending on the lighting conditions.


The assembled build. Custom cables courtesy of pslate.


Top view. Everything fits nice and snug.

Despite the build running hot I've been itching to upgrade to an 8 core CPU ever since the Zen 2 launch.
I am planning to use this upgrade as an opportunity to work on the temps - hence the rebuild.

At the time of writing this post i have the following to-do list:

Parts & mods:
  • ✅ Ryzen 7 3700x installation
  • ✅ Replace the 92mm fan on the NH-L12
    • Will be replaced by a 120mm NF-A12x15 PWM fan
  • ✅ Remove RAM heatspreaders
    • The RAM will not fit comfortably under the modified CPU cooler with the heatspreaders, so they'll have to go.
  • ❌ Install case fan & test intake/exhaust configs
    • An additional NF-A12x15 will be installed under the PSU.
    • Because my FE GPU has a blower-style cooler, I'm not sure if exhaust or intake will be best.
      I will likely do some testing to determine the optimal configuration, but any input would be appreciated.
  • ❌ Replace the case feet
    • The stock case feet has the case sitting really low, heavily restricting airflow.
      I will replace the feet to elevate the case further and give more room for the new case fan to breathe.
  • ❌ GPU mods
    • The heatsink on the 1080 FE is covered by an acrylic window in order to force the card to exhaust towards the back.
      It will be removed in order to improve temps.
    • I'm considering repasting the GPU with Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut.
      Though it was already repasted with NT-H1 last year, so I might skip this step as it will likely yield negligible results.
  • ❌ I/O-shield removal
    • I'm considering removing the I/O-shield for adittional airflow, depending on the case fan configuration.
      Any input on this would be appreciated.
  • ❌ Benchmarks
    • Benchmark the build before, during and after the rebuild.
    • Ideally I want to do extensive testing in order to document the results of the mods in multiple configurations.
      However, as this will be time consuming I might not be as thorough as I'd like.
Initial preparations
First things first - I need to order up some hardware.
On the shopping list is the CPU, thermal paste, new fans and case feet.
I will also need to pick up a new kit of RAM. I'm considering picking up some CL14 B-die to go with the CPU, depending on current pricing and availability.
 
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ebc92

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Mar 4, 2018
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Today the Ryzen 3700x arrived, as well as the slim Noctua NF-A12x15's. 1 core pr. liter, this will be good!
The Zen 2 runs a little bit hotter than previous generations though, so hopefully these will help me keep the temps somewhat in check.



I was also able to RMA my Corsair LPX kit last week.
The retailer gave me a refund, so I put down an order on a G.Skill Ripjaws 3200CL14 kit instead. Unfortunately they won't have it in stock for some days.
I have also ordered up new & taller case feet + some Kryonaut, and I expect to have it all delivered by the end of next week.
 
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ebc92

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Mar 4, 2018
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Bonus build while waiting for the remaining parts (update: benchmarks!)
While waiting for all parts I've been working on repurposing my 2400G for a HTPC build, together with some spare parts.
The 2400G is still a very capable chip and I felt like I didn't really do the APU justice in the ghost with the 1080,
so I figured this would make a good opportunity to see what it can do without a GPU and a decent OC.

This deviates from the purpose of this thread, so I opted to put the write-up on this in a spoiler.
For those interested in the 2400G, read on :)

  • Mobo: AsRock Fata1ty Gaming-ITX/ac
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 2400G
  • Cooler: Wraith Stealth + NF-B9 from the ghost's NH-L12
  • Case fan: NF-F12 from the NH-L12
  • Memory: 1(2)x4GB HyperX Fury 2666CL15
  • Storage: SanDisk X600 128GB M.2
  • PSU: HDPLEX 160W DC-ATX + external 180W AC-DC adapter


I was able to put this build together mostly from parts that I already had laying around.
I've had the metis for a while without having a specific use case (?) for it, and the HDPLEX PSU was intended for a different build that I never got around to building.
The external PSU & M.2 were also spares that came from a Dell G5 that I no longer own, but I had to get the motherboard and the memory for the occasion..

For cooling I was able to repurpose the stock cooler that came with the 2400G.
I also was able to put both fans that came with the NH-L12 to use.

The stealth turned out to be a little bit too loud for my liking, so this is where I was able to utilize the NF-B9 92mm fan that came with the L12.
In short I unscrewed the original fan shroud and used zipties to mount the NF-B9 to the heatsink. It worked out better than expected!


Picture taken before i got the 2nd 4GB stick..

Bonus build update and benchmarks
Still waiting for parts (b-die availability struggles), I decided to elaborate on the build I've been working on in the meantime.

I was very impressed with the single 4GB stick I picked up for this build.
Its rated at 2666C16, but I was able to clock it to 3200C14 w/ tightened subtimings fully stable!
Because the APU is so starved of memory bandwith, this yielded pretty good gains in terms of GPU performance.

I decided to try my luck at the silicon lottery, and picked up another stick to see if I could achieve the same speeds in dual channel configuration.
Unfortunately, the new kit did not only not clock as well, it also had a different type chip.
The first kit was Hynix AFR, while this one was a Micron variant. It was not stable at 3200C14.
My own fault for not buying the kit in pairs, but it should be entirely fine as long as they can handle the same timings.

So with a whole lot of trial and error, I was able to get a decent overclock on most parts.
I could probably have pushed it slightly further, but at this point I think I'd start seeing diminishing returns in terms of time spent/performance gained.

Memory subtimings were tightened using 1usmus DRAM calculator.
The OC is stability tested for my use case using Furmark, in-game testing, CB20 R20 and HCI Memtest.
I was able to clock the GPU to 1600MHz and memory at 3200CL14, but unfortunately neither was stable enough to my liking.

Final overclock
CPU: 3.9GHz @ 1.3V
GPU: 1500MHz @ 1.2V
RAM: 3200CL16 @ 1.35V (16-17-18-18-30)
SOC: Auto

BenchmarkStockOverclocked
Cinebench R20 score18211916
Firestrike 1.1 score17733607
CPU-Z ST score439448
CPU-Z MT score23772424
Overwatch (Avg. FPS)5163
Overwatch (Avg. 1% low FPS)36,537
Apex Legends (Avg. FPS)42,550,5
Apex Legends (Avg. 1% low FPS)3029,5

Game benchmarks is an average of 3 games.

No extreme results here, but when you're already playing in a low FPS range, a ~10 FPS increase in average is really noticeable.
In the end I'm very impressed with what this APU can do. Can't wait to see what AMD does with their APU's next year, with navi and their chiplet arch.
 
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ebc92

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Mar 4, 2018
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Reserved for later use
Pre-rebuild baselines
Pre-rebuild baselines (using 2400G)

Resolution: 3440x1440p
Preset: Maxed/ultra

GameAvg. FPSAvg. 1% low FPSAvg. GPU Core Frequency
PUBG59,527,51660 MHz
Apex Legends7339,51712 MHz
Overwatch93,557,51620 MHz

The conditions of the benchmarks are not super-controlled. Instead I rely on averaged values from 3-6 matches in each game, and making sure only to capture during gameplay.
 
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ebc92

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Mar 4, 2018
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Last pieces of the puzzle arrived today:


A new kit of RAM, new & taller case feet, and kryonaut for the 3700x.

It took longer than anticipated because of the poor availability on b-die where i live.
I had originally ordered a pair of G.SKill Ripjaws V 3200CL14 that was on backorder at the supplier.
After having the delivery date get pushed back 3 times I opted to just get another LPX kit and spend the extra money on capacity instead.
The current kit is 2x16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX rated at 3200CL16.

With all parts ready I will likely start working on the rebuild over the coming weekend, but first i need to get some baseline before-benchmarks with the 2400G.

For those with special interest in APU's - I updated the bonus build post with 2400G OC benchmarks..
 
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ebc92

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Mar 4, 2018
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Thanks! I got the feet off of Amazon, search for "TCH Hardware 8 Pack Small". Rebuild is a little bit delayed, but i have made some progress recently and will update soon :)
 

ebc92

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Mar 4, 2018
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As mentioned I made some progress on the rebuild last week.

In short I was able to check the first 3 points on my to-do list:
  • Ryzen 7 3700x installation
  • Replace the 92mm fan on the NH-L12 (with a NF-A12x15)
  • Remove RAM heatspreaders
I did want to benchmark the CPU using the old fan before installing the NF-A12x15, but was unable to do so due to time constraints.
I also did not bother taking photos of the CPU swap itself as I do not consider it very interesting content..

Removing the RAM heatsinks & replacing the CPU fan
I made some research in advance of the fan swap, and came to conclusion that removing the RAM heatspreaders would be a prerequisite.
Because of this, before voiding the warranty on my original 16GB kit I decided to run some memtest passes to make sure everything was in order.

It was a good thing I did, because the kit would not clear a single pass at its rated configuration. As such I opted to RMA the kit which yielded me a refund.
I ended up replacing it with a 32GB kit from the same Corsair Vengeance LPX line that tested OK.

I only wanted to remove the RAM headspreaders as a last resort, so I did a quick test-fit to see if I could get away with leaving the heatsinks on.

As you can see, even though the fan/cooler sits flush with the memory, the cooler coldplate does not sit flush with the CPU IHS.


I could maybe have forced it flush by screwing it down and stressing the heatpipes, but it would not have mattered due to lack of side-panel clearance.

It turned out the headspreaders had to come off like I had assumed. In order to remove them I used a heatgun and a set of hobby-knives to separate the individual memory chips from the headspreader.

Halfway through the first stick. The thermal adhesive is surprisingly strong..


Both sticks ready for installation


It fits!

After about 1,5hrs of meticulous heating, cutting, and scraping I was able to install the cooler with the new fan.

The fan had to be shifted towards the centre in order to clear some I/O components on the mobo.
I also just noticed there seem to be some minor warping on one of my sidepanels, a known fault with the first Ghost S1 batch..

The system POSTs and both RAM sticks register.
No benchmarks yet, but the system does feel a lot snapper with the 3700x.
The CPU idles at 45-50C, and peaks at around 80C during heavy load. Not great, not terrible..

Before proceeding I will clean and add/update the baseline benchmarks that I captured before starting work on the rebuild.
 
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Ragsters

Trash Compacter
Apr 15, 2018
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Great build!! I have an Ncase build that I love but am curious about the Louqe Ghost S1. Probably going to use that case for my next build unless the MachOne decides to show up :)