[Originally posted on 11/07/17.]
This month, we’re highlighting a PC featuring the Radeon™ Vega Frontier Edition graphics card. We found Richard Parker’s post on /r/amd and reached out to highlight this impeccably built PC. Take a look at the photos below and hear about what inspired his snowy, sophisticated build:
What inspired you to start building PCs? Do you remember the first PC you built?
I can comfortably say AMD inspired me to start building my own PCs, because it was just in March of this year when the Ryzen platform was released that I built my first system for personal use from the ground-up.
That particular machine is a very “budget home VM lab”, powered by a mildly overclocked R7 1700 and the performance has completely blown me away. I’ve been using computers since Windows 3.1 and only now did I feel like parts were cheap and powerful enough to allow me to comfortably attack projects like this on my own.
What’s the story behind this particular build?
This build let me fulfill a dream I’ve had my entire adult life dating back to when I got a taste of 3d Studio Max, AutoCAD, and Rhino in high school years ago: to own a 3D design, animation, and rendering machine that could produce results that live up to the original vision.
I’ve never been able to afford a comparable system for personal use (dual Xeons, pro GPUs, etc.) and the Vega FE’s capabilities and price easily justified the decision to include it in the build alongside the Threadripper 1950x.
I knew I was going to tax both the CPU and GPU significantly, so I decided water cooling was a must. The price of most workstation-class GPUs and the lack of available water blocks for them made the Vega FE a no-brainer in this regard (I go into more detail on my YouTube channel and the build page on PCPartPicker for anyone who is interested).
Any difficult parts you were stuck on during the process?
I did an incredible amount of (nocturnal) research ahead of time and even went so far as to completely design the computer in 3D before anything was purchased to make sure the physical design would work at the most basic level. Specifically, the massive 480mm radiator is not listed as being officially supported by the case manufacturer.
I saw one (bad cell phone) picture on a lonely forum post on overclock.net of someone attempting a similar config and succeeding only in a very questionable capacity. That single image was enough for me to commit to the design and project.
The water loop’s reservoir mounts and spacing required custom-length screws, which was new territory for me and thankfully turned out to be a fun little project in the garage with a hacksaw after a trip to the local hardware store.
I also lacked the detailed specs I needed from the case manufacturer ahead of time. The GPU tray needed to be modified on the fly (more surgical use of a hacksaw) to move the GPU as far forward/away from the CPU as possible, to comfortably allow the related tubing run between those two components.
I went ahead and edited down, and posted my entire build with commentary on my YouTube channel in a single playlist showing the issues I ran into along the way. This included the CPU water block nearly ending the project long before flipping the power switch on for the first time. Disassembling, painting, and reassembling the Vardar fans was a very sincere “effort,” as well.
What help or resources did you use?
I completely devoured several YouTube channels with water-cooling content over the course of a short few weeks, while designing the build in 3D (Rhino).
I also leaned heavily on Reddit’s water-cooling community, which was both unbelievably patient and enormously generous with their time and knowledge. PCPartPicker was also an invaluable resource.
The excitement surrounding the idea of building the computer I’d always wanted kept me very, very motivated. Sitting here at my desk now, enjoying the final product, and reflecting on the entire build effort—it’s still really hard for me to put into words what this computer means to me.
Why did you go with Radeon?
I haven’t taken gaming seriously in recent years because the related components have, in my opinion, been inflated on the price side. I’ve been perfectly happy to wait for the games’ prices to drop significantly before playing them on last year’s hardware. Before this project, I simply hadn’t ever bought a new desktop computer.
I did, however, get a 5770 in a second-hand machine a few years ago and it ran the original Skyrim like a dream. That same GPU is now singing very happily in the VM lab build from earlier this year, alongside the R7 1700. My experience gaming with that GPU, along with the reasons I already mentioned, supported the decision to go with Radeon for this computer. I expect the Vega Frontier Edition to be able to hold its own for several years to come.
What games got you into PC gaming?
The King’s Quest series and Wing Commander. Past that, games that come to mind are the original Command & Conquer games, the original Warcraft series, and I had thousands of hours with my friends on the original Half-Life multiplayer and the early versions of Counter Strike before Steam ever existed.
What games are you currently playing? Which upcoming ones are you most excited for?
Recently, I’ve been enjoying the absolute chaos available in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds with friends. But I have to play that game in moderation, because playing in 4K is both new and different to me. Ghost Recon Wildlands is generally just a beautiful experience. I am really excited to play back through many games from my past like, the Far Cry series, Skyrim with new textures, Dying Light, several Wolfenstein titles, and so many others. For upcoming games, the sky is the limit. I’m really excited about the new Wolfenstein release.
I intend to spend a lot of time in games that I can create myself now, using various design platforms and dumping everything into my own environments in Unreal Engine.
I describe these projects/current ideas to others right now as a vacation that won’t require a plane ticket. My introduction to VR will likely be a part of those projects in the coming months. I’m especially looking forward to recreating some favorite locations from my childhood and building my own virtual movie theater, possibly situated very high up in a very large tree and with very large dinosaurs walking around on the ground below me :]
We’re also looking for more builds to highlight, so tag us on social media with your photos and you might be our next Featured Radeon Rig:
Annie Lee, Product & Content Marketing at AMD. Her postings are her own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies, or opinions. Links to third party sites and references to third party trademarks are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.