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Intel Core Challenge – People’s Choice Winner Interview-hh0

Intel Core Challenge – People’s Choice Winner Interview-hh0

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Inspired by the success of their Core i7 processors, Intel challenged mod enthusiasts all over the world to come up with the coolest custom desktop and offered over $10,000 in cool prizes for the best submissions. The winner of The People’s Choice category was Bernd Matthys and today we talk to him about the process of creating his winning system. – Intel Core Challenge Website

HH: Have you performed any system mods in the past, if so what sort of mods were they?
Freezera: I did some mod work before but not like this, just a retail air cooling, a little paint job and of course some overclocking but nothing really fancy.
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HH: Where did you get the inspiration for the project?
Freezera: Initially I didn’t intend to create such a big mod. I wanted to cool my Core i7 with water because it was getting to hot under load at 4.2GHz. I needed some ideas to build the water-cooling into the Cosmos S so took a look on the internet and found a guy that made a mod in that chassis. His results were quite nice so I decided to create my own mod using 2 colours. I picked blue for the inside and back for the outside.
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HH: How long did it take to build?
Freezera: Pretty long actually, it was a hard work and a great learning process. Sleeving was one of the more time consuming tasks and in total it took about 150hours to complete the system.

There is more to it than you think when sitting down to plan it out. Measure the whole case; see what is possible and what is not. Making an external bay for all the PSU cables at the back of the case. The paint job took a lot of time, tweaking the motherboard to fit in the case, modding PSU cables to make them longer and make your own like the cable for the HDD’s were also big tasks. Then still you will run into a lot of things you didn’t expect and some things you need to redo like the sleeving job for example.

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HH: What is the exact specification/component list for the system?

Motherboard: Gigabyte EX58 Extreme. (When entering competition)
now it’s the newer version the GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD7

Processor: Intel Core i7-940. @ 4.2GHz (When entering the competition)
now it’s the Intel Xeon i7-W3540 D0 stepping hand-picked (good for +4.8GHz on water-cooling)

2x XFX 260GTX 216 Core in SLI. Not really high-end stuff but my budget wasn’t unlimited. (Now i am waiting for the new Fermi in SLI or 3-way)

Case: Cooler Master Cosmos S

RAM: 6GB of Corsair Dominator PC15000 1866MHz.

HDD’s: 2x WD Raptor 74GB RAID0 + 2x Samsung F3 1TB (When entering the competition). Now it’s Intel’s 160GB Postville SSD to replace the Raptor’s.

PSU: Cooler Master M850 Realpower Modular.

Water-cooling: 2x XSPC RX480 quad radiator driven by 13x Scythe 120MM Gentle Typhoon 1850RMP fans and 3x Yate Loon 120MM clear blue fans. 2x Koolance PMP-400 pumps, Heatkiller Rev. 3.0 LT cooling block. All fittings are 1/2.

Fans are controlled by 3x Zalman 5.25 Bay ZM-MFC1 Plus black.

Water-cooling is also going be used for cooling the new Fermi’s that is why there are 2 radiators at the moment.

Optical Drives: 2x Samsung DVD-RW Writemaster black. (These are stealthed now, wasn’t when entering the competition)

Sound Card: Asus Xonar Essence STX with Sennheiser HD650 headphone and Little Dot MK3 amplifier.

I think that is all.

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HH: What was the reason for choosing those particular components?
Freezera: They are all very high-end components except for the 260GTX SLI and the 2x raptors that are now replaced by the SSD. It’s a pity that my budget couldn’t allow 2x 295GTX or 3x 285GTX but for now 2x 260GTX is fine until Fermi.

The motherboard I picked because it had some blue elements, it’s what I needed for the blue concept inside the system. 

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HH: What sort of framerates do you get in your favourite games?
Freezera: Crysis Warhead: Maximum settings, 8x anti-aliasing at 1920×1200 gives me between 45 and 50 FPS. The 3D Mark Vantage score is 21395.

The Core i7 @ 4.2GHz is pulling the 260GTX SLI to a higher level, that’s for sure.

The 260GTX SLI are also overclocked to 702 MHz

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HH: Was there anything you would have liked to do with the system that you couldn’t? If so, what and why not?
Freezera: Of course, like I have mentioned, I didn’t have a unlimited budget and if I had then the system would use the i7-975, 2x Intel 64GB SLC SSD Raid0, 3x 285GTX with 3x EK-FC285 GTX SLI blocks, Enermax revolution 1250Watt PSU and 2x LG BH08LS20 Blu-ray burner.

But without the use of better components I think i have everything achieved that was planned. The level of detail could be better here and there but i am quite satisfied about the result… but my next mod will definitely be better.

(ATI hadn’t released there 5000 series when I built the system so 3x 285GTX was the best GPU setup at the time.)

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HH: Any future builds planned?
Freezera: Yes, I am planning a new mod and will probably start at the end of March. I will construct the case myself because then you can start from what you have in mind and not from what the manufacturer constructed. So you don’t have any boundaries.

I am going to work with 2 colours black and white probably. The case will be white with white LED’s and the components will be painted black. More details will be released in March when I create a work log on  The construction plans are almost completed and if I can create what I have in mind (and on paper) it will be more than just very nice Smile!

I hope to have some sponsoring from hardware shops or manufacturers if possible, so that I can create the ultimate desktop computer. Next week i am standing with the Cosmos on the Intel/Top Gear event @ RAI Amsterdam (Netherlands) (Intel asked me) hope to make some deals there Wink!

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About Author

Stuart Davidson

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