Breadboard Developer Desktop Build

If you are a developer, your desk and PC are almost your whole life. You have probably spent your fair share of time sitting at "desks" piled in the corner of some office, using the only PC the IT department could find. No? I guess that is only me then. We want our developers to love coming to work and to enjoy their workstation here more than any desk and PC they have at home. We want Insanely Great Workstations; workstations that are so insane that you want to make teaser trailers of them. Oh wait, we have one of those:

This is a new build out that we just finished, and obviously we are a bit excited over it. The build is our current developer build, and the full parts list is below which will be updated as the technology out there changes. Our goal for this specific build was to create an insanely fast PC; we don't like waiting (obligatory). We wanted to run dual M.2s in RAID 0 so we went with a Z170 chipset for the motherboard.

Dual Samsung 950 Pros in their native habitat

For the CPU we went with the Intel i7 6700k which is the fastest CPU for the LGA 1151 socket. For the GPU we are running the NVIDIA GeGorce GTX 1080. The motherboard allows us to overclock the CPU and GPU, but we are running the base clock rates for now. Don't want to set off the rubber duck temperature alarms just yet.

Fully Assembled Build, with our Rubber Duck Debuggers

The desk we are using for our workstations is the Jarvis Bamboo Adjustable Height Desk. Almost all of our developers are using a 60" Jarvis desk, which is the perfect size for 2-3 monitors. We went with the Jarvis desk for the stability at taller heights as well as the bamboo aesthetic. The only downside of standing desks is making the cables look good is hard, so we haven't yet perfected it.

As far as peripherals, this set up is running 2x24" Dell U2415 monitors which is our standard configuration for monitors. The keyboard is a CODE keyboard (Cherry MX Clear switches) and the mouse is a Logitech Performance Mouse MX.

Fully Assembled Build, with our Rubber Duck Debuggers

Overall, this latest build was pretty fun to assemble. We ran into some interesting problems installing all of the parts and software along the way.

  • The CPU cooler doesn't quite clear the RAM modules. For future builds we'll likely use the R5 case instead of the R4 which will let us front-mount a larger radiator.
  • We also discovered that we needed an optical drive while trying to install the OS. We were unable to load the IRST drivers to allow us to install the OS on the RAID from a flash drive, we tried several thumb drives and the process kept failing. The drivers are on the disc provided by ASRock for our motherboard so we had to use that. I guess we still haven't done away with optical drives just yet.
  • We couldn't get the motherboard firmware to update. It would get to ~99% then fail (which wiped out our RAID array). So we just gave up. We'll try again on the next build.

Here is the full list of parts for this PC and the prices at time of writing. We will be updating this list in the future as our build changes, and newer technology emerges.

Intel Core i7 6700K 4.00 GHz Unlocked Quad Core Skylake Desktop Processor, Socket LGA 1151 [BX80662I76700​K]
This is the fastest out-of-the-box processor for the LGA 1151 Socket and Z170 Chipset.
ASRock ATX DDR4 Motherboards Z170 EXTREME7+
We chose this Z170 so we could have a bootable M.2 RAID 0 array. If you'd like an X99 instead just know that those boards don't support a bootable M.2 RAID 0 array.
NVIDIA GTX 1080 8GB GDDR5x Graphics Card
"I heard this can run more than one monitor."
Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (4x8GB) DDR4 DRAM 3000MHz (PC4-24000) C15 Memory Kit - Black
32 GBs is enough for our current needs. We can easily upgrade to 64 GBs if necessary.
Corsair Hydro Series H100i v2 Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler, Black
Quiet, compact, and still allows access to the RAM (barely).
Fractal Design Define R4 Cases, Black Pearl (FD-CA-DEF-R4-​BL)
This case is quite and clean and very easy to work in, but needs some more space for top mounted radiators. We'll be upgrading to the R5 on the next build.
Samsung 950 PRO Series - 512GB PCIe NVMe - M.2 Internal SSD (MZ-V5P512BW)
These are FAST! We created a bootable RAID 0 for the M.2s for ~1TB of storage and greatly increased I/O performance.
WD Black 1TB Performance Desktop Hard Disk Drive - 7200 RPM SATA 6 Gb/s 64MB Cache 3.5 Inch - WD1003FZEX
Sadly, the M.2s are not as stable as we might like. Enter backup drive.
Corsair RMx Series, RM750x, 750W, Fully Modular Power Supply, 80 PLUS Gold Certified
Fully modular power supplies are a wonderful thing, and we aren't really doing any overclocking, so 750W covers our needs.
Asus 24x DVD-RW Serial-ATA Internal OEM Optical Drive DRW-24B1ST (Black)
If you are installing an IRST RAID on this chipset, do yourself a favor and get a disc drive. We were unable to load the drivers off a USB drive when installing the OS.
Munchkin White Hot Safety Bath Ducky
We're avid fans of Rubber Duck Problem Solving so every developer gets a duck. I call mine HAL.

You can check out up-to-date prices for the build at PC Part Picker.

Shoutout to Nick Craver (and Stack Overflow) for much of the inspiration on this build. Check out the Stack Overflow developer build.

p.s. We're hiring!

James Taylor

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