After my PC broke last year, and trying to repair it (socket 1150 is dead), I decided to build a new one. Originally I planned on waiting a few more years for VFIO to mature, but Microsoft’s decisions with Windows 10 regarding tracking and whatnot convinced me to run Linux as my main operating system, and Windows in a virtual machine.
I contacted a local custom PC builder with the requirements below, but unfortunately he did not have any experience with similar setups and could not source parts required. I did however take his advice on motherboards, which seems to have been a mistake. Custom watercooling loop was high on my list, partially because I could re-use parts from my old PC, and to avoid fans sounding like jet engines. Aesthetics were largely ignored.
- CPU compatible with XSPC RayStorm
- CPU at least comparable with Intel i7 4770K
- PCIe 3.0 x16 slot for GPU
- PCIe 3.0 x4 slot for SSD
- 4+ USB3 ports
- 10+ USB ports
- 6+ SATA3 ports
- Bluetooth nice to have
- CPU: Intel Core i7-9700K
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG STRIX Z390-E GAMING
- RAM: Corsair VENGEANCE LPX DDR4 2666MHz 2x16GB
- GPU: EVGA GeForce RTX 2070 XC ULTRA GAMING
- GPU waterblock: Alphacool Eisblock GPX-N Plexi Light
- SSD: Samsung 1TB 970 EVO Plus M.2 2280
- PSU: EVGA SuperNOVA 1000 G3
- CPU waterblock: XSPC RayStorm
- GPU: EVGA GeForce GTX 780
- GPU waterblock: EKWB EK-FC Titan
- Radiator: Alphacool NexXxoS UT60
- HDD: WD Red 3TB
- HDD: WD Red 8TB
- SSD: Samsung 840 Pro 256GB
- SSD: Intel 400GB DC P3700 PCIe
- Case: Rosewill Blackhawk Ultra
- various bits and pieces
Let’s be real - putting together a PC is like playing with adult Legos – in other words, easy. Custom loop was a little more work - I took great care to make sure there were no leaks, running leak tests for a few days and I think it’s pretty good now.
Unfortunately, Alphacool mistakenly told me that the GPU (not listed above) I had was compatible with their waterblock, which it was not. EVGA thankfully allowed me to return the card and get a compatible one, although I had to pay postage to return the card. I also ended up switching swapping a 750W PSU to the 1000W one listed above.
This was my first time installing (Arch) Linux on my own PC, only having experience with some servers and virtual machines before. I felt pretty confident, though. Arch Linux wiki was a great resource, and people on VFIO Discord were exceptionally helpful. Getting Arch running took maybe a day, and setting up a Windows 10 virtual machine with GPU passthrough took maybe a day more.
I decided to use my old 780 for the Linux, and gave the new 2070 to the Windows VM. Main issues with the current setup are caused by the motherboard: there are no Linux drivers available for controlling the fans, and the motherboard only has a single USB hub (passing through USB devices is very tricky). Thankfully the 2070 has a USB-C port, which I can use for the few devices that can’t be passed through normally.
- If you go for some highly specialized build, it’s better to trust the people with that kind of builds than the guy with no knowledge of the build whatsoever
- I might end up swapping the motherboard to something better
- People praise EVGA’s customer support, but my experience wasn’t as great. Maybe it’s because I’m in EU?
- Alphacool doesn’t care
- As much as people talk about their VFIO setups breaking all the time, my experience has been very different