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Before we start doing this whole round up, let me go on record: I would never recommend an X99 system at this time strictly for gaming. There are many more cost effective ways of getting to the glorious 1080p, 60FPS, Ultra setting goodness without using the latest and greatest stuff. X99 is workstation level stuff, but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream.

So what is X99? It’s the latest chipset from Intel designed specifically for workstation and server chips. The big main three are the i7-5820k, i7-5930k, and i7-5960X. These range from moderately affordable to insanely expensive, but not without their reasons. All of them are insanely powerful, sporting six or eight cores, all with hyperthreading. They’re so powerful, and require so much power to utilize them (for an Intel chip), that they don’t come with graphics capabilities or even coolers in the box.

This means that the price goes up at every turn, but for those willing, the benefit is perfection. Everything from games to multi-tasking to rendering and more, these chips are amazing. Which is why we are going all out today and using the X99 platform to build one of the most insane computers ever put together on this site. As usual, all prices are in USD from Amazon.com where applicable.

Let’s get started on the X99 Workstation Insanity machine. Add “of doom” if you want to sound crazier.

CPU: Intel i7-5820k

No, we’re not going to use the top tier chip. That truly would be insane at an MSRP of $1000.00 USD. We’re going to go for the cheapest option, which is still over $300. The 5820k is a six core, 12 thread chip, and even though it’s the littlest of the three brothers, it is a monster.

Ever wanted to render Titanic while playing Crysis and Far Cry 4 at the same time? While I haven’t seen it, this chip would probably be capable. Amazing chip, and the first affordable six core Intel has released that’s worth looking at.

CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i

A beefy CPU needs a beefy cooler, and a lot of people love the H100i from Corsair. Cool, quiet, and with some really smart software, this cooler will keep even X99 CPUs cool under a heavy load. Might not allow for super crazy overclocking, but you could definitely try a little with this cooler.

Motherboard: Asus X99-A

Personal opinion here: This board is gorgeous. The colour scheme looks great, the heatsinks are edgy but not stupid looking, and everything just looks great on it. It also supports 64GB of RAM, has 3-way SLI support, 10 USB 3.0 ports, all the fixings for front panel support, a separate audio system featuring Crystal Sound 2, and it is one of the cheaper X99 boards on the market. This is one of these best boards in my opinion, and a lot of people seem to think the same.

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RAM: Crucial Ballistix Sport 32GB DDR4 2400Mhz

Yes, you read that right. Double Data Rate FOUR. X99 is one of the first chipsets to offer support for DDR4 RAM. What does this mean for you? It means faster rendering times as a content creator, faster load times if you use a RAMdisk for games and programs, and possibly increased speed in games. That’s awesome. Downsides? mainly the price and that it is only available on one consumer chipset at the moment. No AMD support yet.

You may be saying “But there’s 2400Mhz DDR3 RAM, isn’t there? What’s the difference?” Yes, there is 2400Mhz RAM and even 2600Mhz RAM in DDR3. But that’s the high point. 2400Mhz is the low point for DDR4, and the savvy user will be able to take advantage of this through overclocking. Just be super careful if you do.

SSD: Adata Premier Pro SP600 128GB

This is a really snazzy little SSD. Adata makes really good memory and SSDs, so putting them in this system is a perfectly fine fit. If you wanted more insanity, you could put two of these in the system in Raid 0 and get even better speeds. Just hope you don’t get any major errors.

HDD: Western Digital Caviar Green 3TB

You’re gonna want a lot of space for all those movies and stuff, so here’s 3TB for under $100. Seriously, take it, it’s awesome. If only the consoles could have this sort of space. If only.

519mntwMA0L - The Round Up: X99 Workstation Insanity Machine!

GPU: Asus Strix GTX 980

It has 4GB of RAM! Sorry, had to make that joke. Anyway, this is easily my personal favourite 980. The Strix, a bloodsucking bird of prey from ancient Roman and Greek myth, is only heard when it has to be. Similarly, the Strix GPUs have a special silent running mode which completely turns off the fans until the the chip gets above a certain temperature. This means in games like League of Legends and web browsing, you won’t hear a peep from this awesome looking and awesome performing card.

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Case: Fractal Design Define R5

Much like the Asus Strix, this case is all about silent function. Spacious, elegant, and with tons of features, this case is great for a premium build like this. Room for all your water cooling needs, and with amazing sound dampening, you may not even hear your system running above your breathing.

PSU: Fractal Design Tesla R2

An 800W, 80+ Gold power supply will feed this machine. As most Fractal products, it is silent yet offers great performance. The Gold rating means clean power goes to the system, and the 800W means you’ll have more than enough room for a second graphics card or a ton of fans.

So, there it is. X99. Really quite something crazy. Coming in at the low, low (not low at all) price of $2069.14 on PcPartPicker before OS and peripherals, this thing really is an insanity machine. If you have anything to do with content creation, you want an X99 Workstation. These truly are the best you can buy.

Happy gaming.


Ben Kuyt

Gamer, Computer geek, Musician, Writer. Favourite series are Star Fox, Halo, Battlefield, and Forza. My last name is pronounced kite. Or kout, for the European Football fans.



  • Timothy Lastovica

    Looks good Ben. Just who ever is interested in a machine like this should double check what GPU they need. If your development software needs CUDA then you’ll need Nvidia. If it is OpenCL then AMD. Some CAD programs only have drivers for the Quadro and FirePro cards. Lastly some software doesn’t even have gpu acceleration so toss it into the cpu. Probably the most annoying thing when dealing with multiple different development softwares is finding something they all play nice with.

  • Bear Daar

    *wipes away the drool*

  • Anonymoose

    Not sure I can give money to Intel again after they wasted 300 mil on a ‘diversity and inclusion’ fund instead of putting all that in further R&D.

  • Ben Kuyt

    Right?! Oh my god.

  • Ben Kuyt

    Honestly, I’m pretty sure their engineers have as much money in R&D as they could possibly get. That 300mil probably wouldn’t affect the development team. Intel is sitting on a nice amount of money.

    I do, however, think it could have been spent in 300 million better ways, like getting girls who might not even know what a computer is onto a computer.

  • HalfTheBattle

    You aren’t going to be building a workstation with AMD. Their best CPU barely keeps up with a Core i5. I for one am not going to let John McIntosh stop me from buying the things I want and need.

  • HalfTheBattle

    Looks like a solid setup, but I have two points of concern: 1) WD green drives are fairly wimpy. I would go for either a red or especially black, because green, while cost effective, are slow and could be a bottleneck. Second, you can do a lot better than an h100i for the cooler. That case could easily fit the new H110i GT which would allow for much better overclocking, and it could even fit a 420mm radiator from one of XSPC’s custom loop kits. Custom loops are more expensive and harder to set up, though a good rule of thumb with radiators is “always go with the biggest one you can fit.” If you go custom loop though, you should definitely consider cooling a reference GTX 980 on water with an aftermarket waterblock too.

  • Ben Kuyt

    The HDD wouldn’t really cause a bottleneck too much I think, only in games. OS and the most popular apps would go on the SSD, everything else on the hard drive.

    I think the H110i GT is good, but I personally haven’t seen a major benefit from the added money. From what I’ve seen, it only lowers temps a little bit. A custom loop would be great, if you can afford it and know what you’re doing. Sadly, I can’t really put custom loop stuff in here without going into a crazy amount of detail. A water cooled 980 would be best, but the air coolers seem good enough for them that you could use them just fine.

  • Ben Kuyt

    Yea, this is true. Even the Opteron chips wouldn’t outclass the X99 chips. Hopefully AMD can make something happen in the high end CPU line.

  • HalfTheBattle

    More competition would definitely be better for everyone. AMD was a real powerhouse in the early to mid 2000s and hopefully with the Zen series they can find their way again, though it may be a while before we see anything from them that is truly workstation grade. Here’s hoping though!

  • Nick

    Just a reminder on the memory front. That the DDR4 – 2400 that you chose is CAS Latency 16-16-16 this is actually really terrible compared to DDR3 at this time. It’s a really bad idea to throw money at higher speed memory when the CAS latency is going to be so much higher, in this case CAS16 is more than twice as slow in response time as the performance DDR3 memory. Beyond that though, if you were trying to purchase faster memory simply because you thought it was going to give more performance then you’re basically throwing money away. DDR hasn’t significantly gotten better since DDR3 because of the Latency problems when you start increasing the clock speed. If you go look at memory latency/throughput charts written in the last couple years you’ll get an idea here. And overall the difference between DDR3 1600 and say this DDR4 2400 is probably only going to be about 1-2% in videogames. And the DDR2400 is probably going to perform worse because of it’s really high response time. In fact, DDR3-2400 has CAS of only 10 right now as one of the best sellers on newegg, and for only $160 for 2x8GB. I didn’t really price shop…

    Also you mention overclocking your memory. Well.. it does next to nothing, so unless you want to risk an unstable machine there’s very little benefit to gain in this area.

    At the moment though, DDR4 is not ready for widespread gaming use. It’s slower by a large margin than overclocked memory profile on DDR3 and costs more. Unless the X99 chips are so much incredibly faster than the high end Z97 CPUs… I don’t see this as being a platform I’d ever want to consider.

    And in my opinion, techraptor article writer should be knowledgeable on not just memory speeds but how latency timings affect memory if they are going to write an article like this. Cause at the moment all I see them considering is the ‘oooh DDR4 2400 is the low end, it’s so much better than DDR3’ which, right now. No it’s not so much better, it’s actually quite a lot worse than DDR3.

    I’d also like to point out that the CPU selected is a 3.3Ghz. This is actually going to perform worse on single-process operations than say the i7-4790k which is clocked at 4.0Ghz. Also the 5820k doesn’t have built-in video capabilities, so you’re locked into purchasing a graphics card for that workstation no matter what. For reference: http://cpuboss.com/cpus/Intel-Core-i7-5820K-vs-Intel-Core-i7-4790K

    Is this article just an ‘This is something that you could potentially build’? because if it’s an actual build recommendation I feel like it’s lacking actual research and just throws a bunch of parts together, but then doesn’t compare it against current offerings and the downsides of moving to a server platform (LGA-2011 is a server platform). Overall I feel like you guys need to do a better job on the research side and actually tell people what they would be getting themselves into. If you’re not going to purchase the hardware and actually compare it against another build I feel like it your responsibility to at least do this on (digital) paper.

  • Nick

    OpenCL is the open standard for GPU computing. You don’t need AMD for openCL to work. It should work just as well or better on nVidia cards simply because they’ve put so much effort into driving the compute-tech with CUDA.

  • Timothy Lastovica

    No, you don’t NEED an AMD card for opencl but you WANT an AMD card if a majority of your work is opencl.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-r9-290-review-benchmark,3659-14.html

  • Timothy Lastovica

    I keep seeing the word video games in your post. Which is odd considering the title of the article has “Workstation”. You know, those machine that are for making productive stuff in the word using CAD, computer aided design, and other productivity suites.

  • Nick

    Even though the article heading says workstation, it references games multiple times. Furthermore, there was no actual benchmarking done. It doesn’t appear that the article writer bothered to back up their claims of this build being performant for CAD applications by showing the actual performance differences vs the standard CPU line that intel puts forth. So we’re left wondering, what’s the actual benefit of dumping $2k on this? Is it going to be worth the actual money? This is something that’s starting to bother me with TechRaptor’s hardware articles vs say tomshardware, or other consumer rating sites where they actually test out a build configuration.

  • Timothy Lastovica

    Ben has clarified on other articles that Tech Raptor doesn’t have the spare funds at the moment to piece together and benchmark these builds. You are correct that these aren’t benchmarked as a whole and obviously the information about funds isn’t included here. It isn’t wrong to wonder about that, though I’m not with Tech Raptor to defend or explain any further as you can understand.

    That being said you can still make build recommendations without putting the machine together. Such as any tech forum with build guides. I’ve guided people through 3 complete computer builds this month alone. Though from your comment it is looking like you want an opinion on why you should buy X99 instead of Z97*. You can use any benchmark website to show you the difference but the charts will usually be the same format for productivity tasks. CPU on the Y axis, TIME on the X axis. The value is whatever price you put having to sit there and wait for it to render is.

  • Ben Kuyt

    Moment we get funding or connections to the level of Tech of Tomorrow, Tom’s Hardware, PCPer, Tek Syndicate, etc., you better believe we will be doing real world benchmarks on systems like this. However, these are to give an idea of what someone could by for specific areas they’re interested in, which is why we’ve got builds ranging from home office to budget gaming to workstations.

  • Nick

    I agree that you can still make build recommendations. But generally a good recommendation includes good sound reasoning on why you would want to spend your money on one thing as opposed to another.

    How much does the CPU actually get used in certain tasks, are certain CAD programs going to be better with single core performance? For instance, AutoCAD’s website even mentions that their app is primarily single-core, so the inference that the X99 based chips are going to be better at CAD isn’t valid, yet the article seems to indicate that because X99’s have more cores (6 physical 12 virtual) they will be performing better for CAD stuff (this might be the case for other workstation apps I just used AutoCAD as an example as it was the first one I searched for).

    When I see information like this my immediate thought is that the build guide is not something I should trust, as the person putting it together just made the assumption that more cores is better, or more memory speed is better. etc. As a result, I start to feel like techraptor’s trust worthiness on the builds is lacking.

    The reason why I bring this stuff up is because I want TechRaptor to be better. I feel like they can do better, and I really want that to be so!

  • Nick

    Nice, thanks for the benchmarks. Didn’t realize AMD performed so much better on openCL. which seems really odd. Must be something with how nVidia builds their GPUs.

  • Timothy Lastovica

    I do agree that finding the right hardware choice is difficult when it comes workstations. So many programs and all are made differently. Can the program take advantage of GPU acceleration? If so, does it need CUDA? Do the drivers support Geforce branded cards or only Quadro cards? Does it multithread well or not at all? If your job needs ECC RAM then you’ll going to X99 no matter what. Generally though most of the productivity applications multi thread well. AnandTech has a good benchmark where they cover video converting, editing, emulation, particle movement, and number crunching. They do multithreaded and single threaded version of some tests but obviously if it supports multithreaded you’d use it. Even on the I7 4790.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/8426/the-intel-haswell-e-cpu-review-core-i7-5960x-i7-5930k-i7-5820k-tested/5