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SFF Workstation Building Advice Needed

artbywaqas

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Apr 2, 2019
20
1
I'm interested in building a portable pc workstation to use for 3D Animation, VFX, VR & Game development.
I do a lot of contract work onsite and always end up using my own computer so durability and
portability are a must!



I really like the MSI Trident X series but the two things it's lacking are:


i - the 32 GB RAM limit

ii - and being a custom case & motherboard I don't know whether this means I would be able to upgrade the video card later on when the time comes



I'd like to be able to use a Micro ATX motherboard like this one:


https://us.msi.com/Motherboard/MPG-Z390M-GAMING-EDGE-AC

so that I can have more RAM and PCI slots


and use a full size graphics card like an GTX 1080 or RTX 2080


For cases something similar to this would be nice? But it sounds like this just for itx motherboards?


Project Orthrus


https://smallformfactor.net/forum/threads/project-orthrus-smallest-sli-matx-case-v2.835/


Others cases I have been looking at are:


Thermatake Core G3 - sounds good too but reviews all say they are very cheap quality?

https://www.thermaltake.com/products-model.aspx?id=C_00002936

Cerberus

http://www.sliger.com/products/cases/cerberus/


Riotoro CR1080


https://www.riotoro.com/cr-1080


The more I try to research it just gives me a headache!



Anyone else also building a portable workstation computer for similar use? I could definitely use some guidance here.
 

artbywaqas

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Apr 2, 2019
20
1
Update:

I only plan to use one graphics card.

I started putting together some components on PCPartsPicker

https://pcpartpicker.com/list/Q6DfWD

For items like the CPU cooler, thermal compound, power supply and fans I
just put in anything for now. I'm not sure what is best and I'm sure finalizing the case
would help determine this.

Choosing the right case is my main dilema. I don't want something too big for fragile.

I think the motherboard, processor and video card are pretty much decided
but I'm open to suggestions.


I already have hard drives, a monitor, mouse and keyboard I can use.
 

Valantar

Master of Cramming
Jan 20, 2018
432
256
I don't have first-hand experience with any of these cases, but personally I'd go with the Cerberus if durability is a concern - steel is strong and can take a beating without deforming (unlike aluminium, or even worse, acrylic), and you can get it with a carry handle. It has good air cooler compatibility if you go wit the front-mounted SFX PSU (or good AIO compatibility if you go with the "floating" PSU style), and airflow should be good with fan mounting options all around and the possibility of venting on all side panels. There's a good list of compatible CPU coolers on their site too. Since it's an enclosed metal design it should be reasonably RF-proof, which might be important if you're bringing this to locations where RF sensitive equipment is used. Of course, adding dust filters is likely a good idea if this is going to be run in various uncontrolled conditions.
 

The6A

Trash Compacter
Mar 20, 2017
44
23
I built a computer for this purpose around a year ago. I got a dan case A4 and it’s worked nicely. I put in it the x99 Asrock mini itx, a Zeon 12-core, 64mb ram, and a 1080ti.

The case is great cause it fits in a camera backpack. Depending on your budget you can go with the Asrock boards and put in a x99 or X299 miniitx, and still go 64gb ram. If your going with only 1 gpu I say ITX and try and get as small as you can.
 

artbywaqas

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Apr 2, 2019
20
1
Valantar -

I'm thinking the same. I went back and looked at all the different cases I was
considering and it seems like the Cerberus is the best choice if I decide to go with a Micro ATX motherboard.

I guess now I need to go back and double check the sizes of all the components and make sure it will all fit.

From watching some videos on computer assembly now I'm wondering if I even installed the fans facing the right
way on my big desktop at home.

Is it basically best to have air sucked in from one side and sucked out via the opposite sides and top?



The6A -

Wow I didn't realize they had Mini ITX boards that could support 64 GB RAM.

For now I'm probabily just going to start with 32 GB but I'm wondering if maxing out to 64 GB later would be enough.
I plan on getting more into working with real time virtual sets using Unreal but I'm thinking this would still
require me to be able to work with larger data files coming from 3DSMAX or CAD.

Now I'm wondering if I should be looking into getting a Quadro workstation video card instead of a gaming video card.

Any idea what the equivalent to a GTX 1080 or RTX 2080 would be in workstation graphics card.
 
Last edited:

Soul_Est

SFF Guru
Silver Supporter
Feb 12, 2016
1,318
1,725
First thing's first: What software will you be using on this machine? The feature support of the software will dictate the hardware and OS. If you need OpenCL, AMD. If you need CUDA, NVidia. If you need threads and a long-term upgrade path, AMD for good performance and thermals (Ryzen 7 and ThreadRipper). If you need single-core performance at the expense of heat (9000-series especially), Intel.
 

artbywaqas

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Apr 2, 2019
20
1
I currently use

3dsmax, Maya, Substance Designer & Painter, Zbrush

Unreal, Unity

Adobe Master Collection


Software I anticipate using in the future

Autocad, Revit, and possibly Pro Engineer
 

fabio

King of Cable Management
Gold Supporter
Apr 6, 2016
718
729
I currently use

3dsmax, Maya, Substance Designer & Painter, Zbrush

Unreal, Unity

Adobe Master Collection


Software I anticipate using in the future

Autocad, Revit, and possibly Pro Engineer
Then, I will suggest staying with the 9900K, all of them are almost optimized for a single core work.

Get the Cerberus for a mATX build, and an NCase M1 for a mITX (Or still a Cerberus with an ITX board with the possibility to have an AIO bottom mounted).

If you can, try to get a better CPU cooler like the Noctua U9s, (the Thermal compound is included and is one of the best)

And I suggest the Corsair SF750 as PSU just because is smaller and the cables are sleeved.
 

artbywaqas

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Apr 2, 2019
20
1

artbywaqas

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Apr 2, 2019
20
1
Hi Guys,



So here's what I ended up getting:




I also got dust filters from https://www.demcifilter.com/sliger-cerberus



I think I'm all set. I cannot think of anything else I may need.



For airflow set up I'm thinking of copying the set up of this video



.... where he has fans blowing in from the front and bottom and out on the top.



. For power supply placement I chose the SFX/SFX-L Plate configuration from https://www.sliger.com/products/cases/cerberus/



Looking at the motherboard it looked like placing the power supply in the front like the SFX/SFX-L Internal option it may not even fit.



I guess I won't know until everything arrives.



https://www.msi.com/Motherboard/MPG-Z390M-GAMING-EDGE-AC/Specification


If you advise otherwise differently about anything certainly let me know.




@The6A which RAM did you get and from where? I think my motherboard supports

32 gb sticks to a total of 128 gb RAM but I'm having trouble finding it :(
 

Valantar

Master of Cramming
Jan 20, 2018
432
256
Looks nice! One thing to be aware of: AIOs with the pump integrated into the CPU block should generally not be mounted with the radiator below the pump/block. With a setup like this, any air in the AIO will gather in the pump/block rather than safely in the radiator, and as the loop ages and permeation and evaporative losses add up, you run the risk of losing water flow due to there being too much air in the pump housing (which can also burn out the pump if it gets too bad). In other words: an AIO installed in this orientation will have a shorter lifespan and require more maintenance. It'll still likely last you nicely for some years, but shorter than if installed in any other orientation.
 

artbywaqas

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Apr 2, 2019
20
1
@Valantar Aww man :( That doesn't sound good. What if I mount the radiator vertically to the front of the case ?

I haven't opened it yet in case there is a better option?

I was advised not to use the on CPU radiator /cooler as that could put physical strain on the CPU area of the motherboard since I would be moving the computer around a lot.
 

Valantar

Master of Cramming
Jan 20, 2018
432
256
@Valantar Aww man :( That doesn't sound good. What if I mount the radiator vertically to the front of the case ?

I haven't opened it yet in case there is a better option?

I was advised not to use the on CPU radiator /cooler as that could put physical strain on the CPU area of the motherboard since I would be moving the computer around a lot.
Moving the case around a lot would mean you run a slight risk of getting air in your pump no matter what, but then again it ought to be rather trivial to just tilt the case a bit with the pump running to get the air into the radiator instead if the radiator is mounted to the front. The best way to do this - if it fits and is possible to route the tubes that way - would be for the ports on the radiator to be at the bottom. That way, any air in the rad would stay at the very top with little chance of moving around (unless you lay the case flat or flipped it over).

Remember that a front-mounted radiator cuts into your GPU length.
 

fabio

King of Cable Management
Gold Supporter
Apr 6, 2016
718
729
Can i suggest to use the Noctua U9s with 2 fans instead? It can manage a full 5ghz overclock on the 9900K.
Limiting the Long Power Duration to 190W you will have even a super quiet system.
And you can use the space on the bottom for fans etc. Really, for the 9900k is perfect!
 

artbywaqas

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Apr 2, 2019
20
1
@fabio like this?




@Valantar If the risk is really minimal then it seems I may as well try out the AIO and see how it goes.


Alright it looks like I'm going to have to do some measuring and see how best to arrange all my components to fit properly in the case and then decide accordingly.
 

artbywaqas

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Apr 2, 2019
20
1
Just in case the NXT x62 does not fit in front and I still want to try out liquid cooling do you think the Kraken X42 would be ok?


I'd try installing it like this then and move the power supply to the front

 

artbywaqas

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Apr 2, 2019
20
1
@fabio Ok just checked out a bunch of videos about air vs liquid coolers. Thanks for your advice I'm definitely returning the x62 Kraken for a Noctua U9 :)
I wish they had other color fan options but that's fine. If it does the job it's all good
 

fabio

King of Cable Management
Gold Supporter
Apr 6, 2016
718
729
@fabio Ok just checked out a bunch of videos about air vs liquid coolers. Thanks for your advice I'm definitely returning the x62 Kraken for a Noctua U9 :)
I wish they had other color fan options but that's fine. If it does the job it's all good
You’re welcome, man!

You can check also the C14s, but the U9s in my opinion is better because leave the access to everything around.

Enjoy it man!! And post the build when done! ;)
 

Valantar

Master of Cramming
Jan 20, 2018
432
256
That should be a good choice of cooler - not so big and heavy that it's likely to cause damage while being transported, and itself far more durable than any AIO (as there's no pump that can fail). It'll also make the PC a bit lighter overall, and thus a bit easier to carry. Also, no airport security worries if you ever fly with it. And unless you plan a crazy overclock, it should handle the load just fine - it's the only 92mm cooler I know that has a socket TR4 version, which speaks to its cooling capability.

Besides, the beige-and-brown Noctua color scheme is a badge of honor ;) - it shows you care more about performance than style.