Kali is a dual-Xeon workstation that I started building in the summer of 2010. I ordered the main parts in July to take advantage of a 15% cashback deal from Bing and TigerDirect. Unfortunately, the first SR-2 motherboard had a bad DIMM slot, so I got an RMA replacement board in August. I ordered a customized case from Mountain Mods which arrived in October. After a few other tweaks and build challenges, I finally got it all together some time in early 2011. This machine has replaced Aparna as my primary desktop PC.

If you've seen Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom then you've heard of the goddess Kali. The name means "the black one" and can also mean "time." Kali is Shiva's consort in Hinduism. I've resisted using this name for a long time because I thought it was a bad omen, and I may have been correct. Regardless, I felt it was appropriate for this machine.


Kali frontKali back
Kali internal leftKali internal right


new desk layout

Since I was building a new desktop PC, I finally upgraded some of my peripherals (plus my desk chair), such as finally ditching the ancient 19" CRT monitor. The Dell U3011 is fantastic. If you read reviews, you'll see tons of complaints about the anti-glare coating and how it makes the screen sparkle. It's not that big a deal -- I don't even notice it any more -- and everything else about the monitor is great. The Mantis light is also cool.

Build Process

The build took place roughly in three stages. First I assembled the PC hardware without the case. Next was the interminable case assembly and modification process. The last phase was overclocking and tweaking, plus a few hardware changes.

early test configuration

One nice thing about the SR-2 is that the giant box it come in is a decent platform for a test build. I did some initial benchmarking and overclocking, then installed Windows 7 Professional x64 and started transferring files from my old desktop. The 32nm Xeon chips are decent overclockers, but I seem to have gotten a weak pair. The SR-2 is a challenging overclocking platform, but there other owners online offered some great help. I easily hit 175 BCLK x 22 for 3.85GHz at only 1.3 Vcore during initial testing. However, true stability was difficult to achieve, especially when I finally stuck it in a case and my temps went up quite a bit. I ended up settling on 172 BLCK.

Kali windows

Assembling the case was an odyssey. When the parts arrived, one of the struts had an issue, but Mountain Mods replaced it. Then I decided I wasn't happy with my custom dual PSU openings, so I made the holes bigger so I could use some Lian Li removable brackets. I made my own threaded holes with some nuts and J-B Weld. It took a while to pick the right fan grills, and even longer to work out the proper fan layout. Initially I got a big window top, but then I realized single rear fan wasn't able to exhaust all the heat from the dual CPUs. The final layout is the three front fans and the top rear fan bring cool air in, and three fans in the top plus the lower rear fan where the boot hard drive is mounted are exhausts. Finally, the LED fans on the front weren't bright enough to light the interior, so I installed two LED light bars in the top struts connecting the front and rear case panels. The optimal mounting angle was 45 degrees, so I bent some small pieces of sheet metal into triangle shapes and mounted everything with double-sided tape.

I recently (June 2012) installed the DVD drive and front panel card reader, plus cleaned up a bit of the wiring and blew the dust out to take these pictures. I didn't hook up the Firewire port (no mobo header) or the HD audio (wouldn't reach), and the USB3 ports seem to have issues (BSOD trying to check the firmware version), so I can only use the USB2 port and the card readers, both of which are also available on the monitor, so the card reader turned out to be sort of a pointless addition. I've had issues burning CDs with the Blu-ray drive, so I need to see if the DVD drive works any better. In short, there are still several issues with this box, but I think it looks pretty cool and most things work most of the time. When I was carrying it back to the office, I decided to stop off at the bathroom scale and learned it weighs 50 pounds.

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© David Park
Last updated: Monday, June 25, 2012 4:55 AM UTC