Admittedly… I still enjoy building my own hardware and putting my computers together exactly the way I want them. That’s why, in addition to a laptop, I still have a PC with a “traditional” tower case and drive bays that are accessible from the front. Unfortunately, the old mainboard with Intel Xeon E5-1650 v2 finally failed, so a replacement was needed.
My requirements are not very high – essentially only the existing hardware should continue to be usable. The fact that the NVMe SSDs can be used directly on current mainboards was a welcome improvement. I only wanted to stay within a maximum of about 400-500 EUR when it came to the budget.
In the end I chose the following equipment:
- ASUS TUF Gaming B550 Plus
- AMD Ryzen 7 5800X
- 4× 16GB RAM DDR4-2400, Kingston Fury (64GB total)
I was able to use the remaining hardware of the PC largely unchanged. Only one of the three SATA SSDs had to be decommissioned.
Mainboard and RAM
The motherboard is an ASUS TUF Gaming B550 Plus. The AM4 CPU socket is not the very latest technology, but it is cheaper overall and there are still fast CPUs for this socket. You have to live with the fact that most hardware in the desktop area is designed for “gaming” these days. However, you can also simply switch off gimmicks such as RGB lighting and the boot logo, then they won’t bother you.
The mainboard is equipped as you would expect – there are plenty of connections for USB and SATA, LAN with 2.5 GBit/s, onboard 5.1 audio including S/PDIF with optical output and two M.2 slots for NVME SSD’s. ASUS provides a feature to flash a BIOS directly from an USB stick connected to a dedicated port in case the system does not boot any longer. DisplayPort and HDMI are provided for CPUs with integrated graphics like the AMD Ryzen 7 5700G.
I found it surprising that RS232 is also available internally and can be routed to the outside via a slot cover. This is not included in the scope of delivery, but I still had one left – the interface still works perfectly even with old hardware.
The PCIe lanes are not sufficient to use all interfaces simultaneously without restrictions. This results in the following limitations, which are also described in the manual:
- If you use the second M.2 slot for SSDs, two of the six SATA ports are switched off, since SATA ports 5 and 6 share the PCIe lanes with this slot.
- The second long PCIe slot looks like PCIe 16×, but only uses four lanes (PCIe 3.0). These are also reduced to one lane if one of the remaining PCIe 1× slots is used.
Booting the system from the previously used NVME SSD worked without any problems. Only a few drivers for the chipset had to be set up later. Since two of the SATA ports were not usable, I decommissioned the smallest of the three SATA SSDs. But since it was only 256 GB anyway, that’s not a big loss. If necessary, I will replace one of the existing SSDs with a larger model. I also can also add an additional controller later and use additional drives in this way.
For the RAM I use four modules with 16 GB each. As a result, the CPU can use the RAM in dual-channel mode and 64 GB of RAM is sufficient for years to come. I deliberately do not operate the main memory in an “XMP” profile with overclocking and higher voltage, but left it at the intended standard clock of 1.2 GHz.
As usual an UEFI BIOS with a graphical user interface is also used here:
However, the interface is still only displayed for screens in 4:3 format (with a resolution of 1024×768 pixels), although 16:9 has been the standard for many years. The “EZ-Mode” (pronounced “Easy Mode”) offers an overview of the current hardware equipment and basic settings. For all further activities, you can also switch to the “Adanced Mode” with the F7 key, in which you can then also activate support for virtualization (SVM) and the option for “ECO mode” (more on this below).
The new CPU is an AMD Ryzen 7 5800X.
This is a CPU with 8 cores, 16 threads, 32 MB L3 cache and a base clock of 3.8 GHz, which will be increased to up to 4.7 GHz if required.
Eventhough the CPU is technologically more than two years old, the given performance is still very decent and will also be sufficient for the years to come.
Fortunately, the CPU cooler that I used before, Scythe Mugen 5 Rev. B, can also be used for socket AM4.
With newly installed hardware, I like to test the stability with load tests. This showed that the CPU quickly ended up at 90°C at full load – despite the large heat sink and fast-rotating fan. Research then revealed that this is probably completely normal when the CPU is fully loaded.
I prefer a cooler CPU, even if it’s a bit slower. Fortunately, this is quite easy to do with the appropriate settings in the UEFI BIOS:
- At “Advanced” under “AMD Overclocking” set the option “Precision Boost Overdrive” to “enable” and then restart the system and go back to the UEFI setup.
- The “ECO Mode” option is now also available at “AMD Overclocking”. Select the “ECO-Mode (65W)” setting here. This automatically adjusts some parameters in the “Precision Boost Overdrive” section.
The result: the CPU hardly gets warmer than 65°C even under maximum load, but the maximum performance only drops by about 8%. Overall, the system is still very fast and at the same time significantly cooler and quieter with lower power consumption.
By default, virtualization is not enabled. To do this, you have to set the “SVM Mode” (Secure Virtual Machine) option to “Enabled” in the BIOS settings under “Advanced” at “CPU configuration”.
When installing the Intel Xeon E5-1650v2, I ran a benchmark with Cinebench R15, which resulted in 915 points. The AMD Ryzen 7 5800X achieves 2332 points and is therefore faster by a factor of 2.54.
Overall build and components
Finally, for the documentation, the obligatory picture of the overall build – rather “old school” and unexciting, but ideal for my purposes. I’ve been using the case for a number of years. It’s quite large and heavy (the PC weighs 19 kG in total), but it’s also very stable and all components are very easily accessible. There is also still plenty of space and free slots for controllers and drives if I want to use additional hardware in the future.
The case also usually has additional ports on the side for USB 3, FireWire, and audio. However, FireWire has long been obsolete and the quality of the audio connections is extremely poor. I also have enough connections for USB 3 in the combined card reader and USB hub.
So I removed the connection module to have fewer unnecessary cables in the case and covered the area with duct tape – pragmatic and functional ;-).
The components used for the build:
- Case: Chieftec LBX-01B-B-B (ATX, 6× 3.5″ internal, 2× 3.5″ external, 4× 5.25″ external)
- Power supply: 400 Watt, be quiet! Straight Power E9 Non-Modular 80+
- Mainboard: ASUS TUF Gaming B550-Plus
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X with mit Scythe Mugen 5 Rev. B
- RAM: 4× 16GB DDR4-2400 (Kingston Fury)
- Graphics card: MSI GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G
- Drives: NVMe 512GB, NVMe 1TB, 2× SATA SSD 1TB, LG WH16NS60 BD/DVD, mobile hard disc rack ICY BOX IB-168SK-B, internal card reader and USB3 hub Chieftec CRD-801H
- Additional parts: slot brackes for 2× USB and RS232