DREAM MACHINE 2017
We rise to our annual build challenge to put together the best system possible—money definitely no object.
IN THE MIDST OF CHAOS, there is also opportunity. In the convoluted world of transistors and nanometers, battles are being fought, as Intel and AMD vie for your hard-earned cash. The core count is rising, and we’re currently seeing the landscape change at an incomprehensible rate. Soon, 16- and 18-core parts will become the weapons of choice for anyone looking to build such a ludicrously bank-breaking system as this.
For now, though, the heady heights of 32 threads are nothing more than a fevered dream, hidden from consumers until their grand masters see fit to release them upon the computational world. But Dream Machine doth wait for no man. It’s the culmination of a year’s worth of technological development, and the machine we build now, one of the most powerful and intricate of its kind, would look very different if we were to build it in even six months’ time. It is an exercise in hubris, neither adhering to any budget, nor any perceived spec—it is the best of the best of what we have available today.
Dream Machine is a concept, not something that should ever really be attempted. It is, by its very nature, an unreasonable machine, beyond any recommendations. So, when no holds are barred, what can you do with the latest and greatest hardware out there? That’s what we’re here to find out—to build, in-house, one incredible system, at one incredible price.
AS WE’VE ALLUDED TO ALREADY, speccing out Dream Machine 2017 was a challenge. The processing world is in a state of extreme flux right now, with both Intel and AMD providing fantastic solutions for anyone looking to build beyond a quad-core system. And let’s go on the record: If AMD’s Threadripper were available today, with all of its 16 cores, we would have used that (believe us—we almost had it, but, unfortunately, AMD wouldn’t budge its shipping deadline by a week), and if Intel’s $2,000-plus Core i9-7980XE were around, that would have been on the cards, too. However, deadlines are a kicker, and you could wait around forever for the next big thing.
CPU CONUNDRUMS We went through three iterations of tubing runs before settling on two bow loops. The distance between the memory fitting on the left of the CPU and the one on the right is about half an inch, so we couldn’t use one as a template, and instead had to bend both loops by hand, using two different cylindrical objects—in this case, our deburrer and an unused reservoir.
CUSTOM CABLES These cables turned out great, and definitely add some pizzazz. Our one regret? Not opting for longer cables. The Elite is ridiculously big; the 24-pin was fine, but the two eight-pins at the top nearly didn’t make it. If it weren’t for some clever routing and Phanteks’s eight-pin EPS extensions, we wouldn’t have made deadline.
PASS-THROUGH PERFECTION One of the main reasons we wanted to use the Enthoo Elite was the compartmentalized design. Combining it with pass-through fittings keeps the top aesthetic exceptionally clean, and allows us to hide the majority of our more complex tubing runs out of sight between the two loops, and behind the back of the case.
RESERVOIR RIDICULOUSNESS These plates are genius. Designed to hide SSD/HDD mounting points, you can remove or keep them, depending on what you plan to install. If you want to install a res, remove one of the brackets, and choose whichever fittings you want. We drilled straight through the aluminum plate to install our two reservoirs, to keep the aesthetic clean and fit more than one loop.
HARD DRIVE HIGH JINKS “But MaximumP C? Where are the two 10TB hard drives?” Good question. We actually took them out of this shot, so you could see the complexity of the tubing runs, leading into the back of the chassis. However, the hard drives fit here snugly, under the tubes and slightly above the fans/radiator, on included brackets. You can just about spot the mounting hooks.