For this build, it’s going to be an Intel build with i5-12400. The last time I used an Intel CPU was back when …Hmm, I think the last Intel CPU I used was i7-7700k. I had been using Ryzen since then.
The reason I am turning to an Intel build now is that I dislike how expensive Ryzen 7000 platform is. CPU price itself is fine although a bit overpriced but motherboard price is simply nuts (at least twice), not to mention its absurd DDR5 RAM price also.
GPU will be a 3060 12GB model. This is rated for 170w TDP which I am concerned how it will fare in a 2U chassis.
i5-12400 is 65w part although it will consume about 80watt according to numerous reviews.
I mentioned in the review for RM24100 that a SFX PSU should be used. That is exactly what I am going to do here. CPU cable is too short however. Thus, I am using an extension cable for CPU.
It’s tight, the cable length. But then, in a 2U chassis, shorter cable is better than ridiculously long cables.
I am also using a SFX PSU here. A modern desktop PSU will choke in there since there is no gap on top and bottom. The only desktop PSU that will work in this chassis is those cheap PSU with a 80mm fan on its back. You can still find those for dirt cheap. Would I use it here? I’d rather not to be honest.
I am going to be honest here. The 3060 barely fits. I mean, it does fit but the locking mechanism isn’t holding the GPU firmly. Still, in spite of how dodgy it looks, the GPU is held okay and won’t go loose on its own.
Now, time to boot the system, install Windows 11, and play a game for an hour to see how the case fares.
Hmm, interesting. After playing State of Decay 2 for an hour, I have an interesting result. CPU temp is stabilized at 56c. But then, you can see that the temp shot up to 70c when being utilized at only 10%.
As for the GPU, it’s cooking. I expected this. It’s thermal-throttling. Interestingly, the chassis isn’t hot or even warm to touch. The 80mm fan in the back, it’s not blowing out hot air, either. It’s lukewarm.
What this tells me is that the GPU is choking for air. Well, let’s stress the CPU. Time to fire up blender.
Interesting. CPU fan shoots up in speed, and the temp is stable at around 80c. It says it is using about 75watt of power. I am positively surprised that CPU temp is stable here, given this is a 2U chassis with no fan near the zone.
Now, if you look at GPU, it has gone down to around 46c. It has gone down to that temp within a minute or so. This tells me that the GPU is really grasping for air. I think the cooling itself is fine. It just needs more air.
I’ve decided to move the rig back to a 4U I use so that I can continue to use the computer for the time being. After then, I’ve given some thoughts on how to proceed. Basically, I am giving myself a break.
A week later
Low profile GPU options are there. There is RX 6400 which is a bit too weak. It’s on par with 1650. And there is A2000 RTX which is about the same as 3050 RTX or 1660 Super.
The issue is that the choices are too limited. Your upgrade path will be at the mercy of GPU vendors. Seeing how scarcely a new LP GPUs are released, I feel it’s better not to be depended on them.
Therefore, it’s important for me to keep 3060 functional somehow in the chassis. I don’t game much. Rather I need the CUDA cores for Blender in which case RX 6400 becomes a moot point since it’s too weak for Open GL.
And so, I’ve reworked the internals. The SFX PSU is no longer using an adapter basket. I’ve basically glued it down using rubber feet so that it won’t rattle around. I am using an EVGA SFX PSU.
I am sticking with a SFX PSU for air flow. I don’t want an ATX PSU blocking a whole half of the front.
The PSU is rated for 550w. I will barely use half. 170w-ish from GPU. 80w from CPU. Let’s add extra 20w for the motherboard and two M.2 drives. So, basically 300w at max.
And I am using rubber feet for 120mm fans to make a sort of support for the GPU. This will ensure that the GPU will have a breathing room unlike the last time where it was sagging down and was choking himself.
Finally, I am zip-tying the GPU and replaced its fan to a quieter one. The original fan was moving a lot of air but was just way too loud.
Heck, yeah. GPU is stable at 93c. It is at least not thermal-throttling. This method seems to work.
Yes, it’s doing worse than how it was doing in a 4U case. But that is to be expected. This is a 2U chassis, basically half of its volume after all. So, I am happy with the thermals.
I was playing State of Decay 2 for about 2 hours, and the rig shut down. I fired up HWmonitor while playing the game again. The rig froze and locked up. The temperature looked fine however.
So, I opened the lid and played the game again. This time, no freeze and lockup.
It means that, while the temperature looks within limit, something else was overheating to a point that the PC was entering a hard lockup.
In the end, I think having a 170w TDP GPU within the 2U chassis with just a single 80mm fan dictating airflow is just too much.
Now, I am going to say that it is entirely possible to use 3060 (or better) in a 2U chassis. But doing so will require more fans with higher RPM. I’d also need a different chassis to pull it off where I could install 80mm fans in middle. This chassis is simply not built for that purpose. The PSU location doesn’t help because it expels warm air to where GPU is.
If 3060 is not a choice, then 3050 might be since its TDP is lower at 130w. However, if I am to choose 3050, I might just as well go for A2000 which is a low profile card already and rated at only 70w. The price is roughly the same in Canada. I’d choose A2000 over 3050 any day if price point is the same.
I sold my 3060 to recoup the cost. I wish I could have kept it but I don’t have bottomless budget.
So, A2000 arrived from Ebay…
The delivery took good damn 2 weeks from New York to Ontario. Ebay global shipping is such a disaster. It would have taken no more than 3 days with Fedex or UPS.
Anyway, my first impression of the card was … wow. It looks premium and feels premium. I don’t know why Nvidia didn’t add a backplate to it to complete the appearance. Either way, this thing has a certain charm that I absolutely love.
I think I might keep the GPU even when its usefulness begins to wane. This is a collector’s item in more ways than one.
As for its performance, it is clearly going to be less than what I had gotten from a 3060. But it IS far superior than the alternative, namely RX6400 and Nvidia 1650.
In fact, as a stopgap solution, I had been using RX6400 which I snagged at 180 CAD used from Amazon just to run a few games. I did also for the kick of it, fire up Cyberpunk 2077 with RX6400. It was set at mix of high & ultra because I was using 3060 back then. RX6400 scored 5 FPS at the same setting.
I don’t hate it but, with so little OpenGL (CUDA alternative for Blender) prowess, I wasn’t going to continue using it. Meanwhile, at the same setting, A2000 scored 22 FPS avg. Not great but certainly better than meager 5 FPS. Oh, this was at 1080p.
When I set preset to just high, A2000 scored 55+ FPS avg even in a busy street which is, in my book, a perfectly acceptable performance. I was normally getting 75+ FPS in most situations. This is a 70w TDP GPU we are looking at here. The performance per watt is probably off the chat for this specific GPU.
Temperature was also within the limit. It’s pretty good considering this is a 2U chassis. And it was quieter than RX6400 interestingly. The RX6400 did hit 102c and thermal-throttled a little in fact. It probably needs a double slot cooler which A2000 does have.
This build has taken weeks, no, actually two months to start and complete. The RM24100 chassis took roughly 3 weeks to arrive from US and then I built a rig around it with a 3060 which failed.
A week later, I decided to go with A2000 which took an additional 2 weeks to arrive. Then I forgot to order a mini-DP to HDMI cable from Amazon, so an extra day on top of that, etc etc …
Okay, a month and half seems accurate.
I’ve built numerous 2U rigs before, but this is actually the first time I’ve built a performance-oriented rig in a 2U. I had stuck with 4U cases for ease of thermals.
It was a long journey with trials and errors. In the end, I’ve ultimately settled with A2000 RTX.
And A2000 RTX is a gem. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Its spec is weird in a very good way. 3k+ CUDA cores at very low MHz to keep thermal down. It’s basically a heavily down-clocked 3060. In my honest opinion, A2000 is what 3050 should have been in the first place.
You can find these at 250USD-ish on Ebay. Yes, they were used for mining. However, Linus Drop tips has repeatedly debunked the general consensus that GPUs used in mining are crippled.
In fact, anyone who has done CPU folding would know that. Chips, if they are run within its spec and temp, are perfectly fine even if it’s pushed for 100% load for years. It’s when you OC beyond its spec, chips begin to degrade. However, even then it takes years for a heavily OCed CPU to degrade.
A2000 RTX found on second hand markets are barely a few (2 at the most at 2023) years old. So, go for it if you want the GPU.
Finally, because this chassis can swap out the rear basket, my upgrade path still exists. I just know that 170w TDP is too much. If 4050 comes by and has around 130w TDP, I do think this chassis can handle it with the current cooling capability.
Now, I have another 2U chassis to review in near future. See you then.