Before Sacriel arrives, we sit down with Ian Parry, more widely known as 8Pack, to discuss his role in creating Jeff. 8Pack has spent years building mind-blowing systems, up to single-chassis dual system set-ups that can cost £30,000 or more. Beyond his talent for building systems, 8Pack has held world champion titles in the overclocking space and has broken world records in all areas of overclocking. It’s safe to say – the man knows PC hardware.
How 8Pack Got Started
When we sit down to talk with 8Pack about his business, we start by asking how he started out.
“The first reason I started overclocking was that I was into gaming. I bought an expensive PC from the high street for around £1,200. I downloaded a benchmark tool – I think it was 3DMark 2001 or something and ran the benchmark. I noticed my system compared to similar systems was performing poorly. With my competitive nature, I couldn’t accept that.
So I learnt how to overclock and benchmark so I could get the best performance out of the hardware in front of me.”
“I gave up overclocking in a competitive sense in the last two to three years to really focus on the 8Pack brand.”
8Pack describes how basic customisation was in the early days with no brackets or mounting for features we look for today, like water cooling.
“I got into modding because I needed to cool the performance I was getting via the overclocking I was doing.”
Naturally this led to talk about Overclockers UK and how Ian began working for the bespoke PC system and component retailer.
“I was actually already using Overclockers UK for hardware, so it was more of a natural progression. Unlike other retailers they could source exact batches of processors that I needed for my world record attempts which made a world of difference to my benching. In addition to this, their customer service was second to none. This eventually led to a synergy and the formation of the 8Pack brand you see today.”
Building for Perfection
After hearing about his early days in the modding scene and how he ended up at Overclockers UK, we spoke about his most home-made creation to accommodate the lack of official support:
“I guess the most home-made solution was the time I created 10 plates for the radiators using CAD and cutting it out by hand with saws and drills. These days we have CNC machines and designers that handle that, but back then it was all by hand. There’s no cardboard cut-outs anymore!”
Naturally asking about the most home-made set-up leads to us asking “What’s your proudest creation?”:
“The build I’m most proud of is the original Orion X shown at Computex around three years ago. That was the first build that had a distribution plate that had several layers, a dual-system in one chassis – with both systems having incredible performance. Orion X is definitely our most outrageous build.”
Beyond talking about particular systems, we query 8Pack on his design choices, asking him whether his systems focus on stability or performance primarily:
“Over the years of building, we’ve come up for each Intel® platform, individual binning profiles, so that new products such as the Intel® Core™ i9-9900k, we can run all cores at 5GHz or above. We’re looking for both using those key binning profiles.”
“We demand full performance and full stability under all workloads”
It’s clear that when 8Pack and his team choose a system to put together, they’re not only bringing the years of experience and tools they’ve acquired, but also a sense of perfection in the systems they both design and build for their clients.
Speaking to 8Pack’s preference for Intel® processors in his system builds, we ask him why Intel is his go-to processor range:
“These systems are primarily aimed at gamers. Intel offers the highest clock speeds and IPC, that equals the best performance in FPS and esports titles - that are very much bottlenecked by the CPU. Also, Intel are now offering 8 core 16-thread processors, that aren’t limited to professional areas anymore – meaning we can build systems that can handle gaming and streaming, with things going on in the background while gamers play, and it works flawlessly.
Smoother experiences, higher clock speeds, higher efficiency, and also the Intel® platform allows us to run memory at very fast speeds and capacities. It makes building a powerful system easier.”
We move onto to talking about Sacriel’s new system, based around the Hunter range which is inspired in many ways by the Orion X. We start by asking him what his approach was for the build, especially considering Sacriel is notorious for being a single-PC streamer.
Sacriel's New Rig
“The Z390 platform is perfect for Sacriel’s needs. The Intel® Core™ i9-9900k CPU we installed is ideal for the types of situations Sacriel’s going to be in, streaming, gaming, and recording at the same time.
We overclocked the system to 5GHz over all cores, so there’s no dip in speed or efficiency. With everything we’ve put in performance-wise, then we focused on cooling all that performance. Finally, the looks came last, and the Hunter really is a good-looking system, especially with Sacriel’s orange-and-black signature design. I call it the ‘You’ve Been Tangoed’ system!”
Later in the morning, Sacriel arrives. After disappointing Sacriel with a weak cup of tea, we head down to the workshop to unveil the system, and see what he makes of it. Impressed by the dual reservoir set-up and custom design, he begins pointing out features like the custom water-cooling and Intel® Optane™ storage that will benefit his streaming experience.
8Pack happily fills him in on the details:
“With Intel® Optane™, you’ll never run into stuttering or loading issues. It’s the fastest storage you can get in an Intel®-based system . The Intel® Core™ i9-9900k will give you the fastest frames in your games, while still running everything you have going on in the background (like streaming and recording) with no issues.”
When it comes to the cooling, 8Pack points out the two quad-radiators connected to the two reservoirs, which he points out is “massively overspecced” for the build, but will mean Sacriel and his stream will never have to suffer the interruption of fans spinning up loudly and disrupting his gameplay.
Sacriel is clearly pleased with the result.
“It’s having the peak performance, with none of the downsides which is typically lots of loud cooling. It’s peak performance with absolute efficiency.”
After watching Overclockers etch designs into the glass side-panel, we sit down and talk gaming and streaming with Sacriel, starting with how he got started in gaming.
“I originally got into gaming due to my dad. We had every kind of PC you could think of. I got the bug there, starting with weird 80’s games like ‘Jet Set Willy’ that my dad would bring home. My first PC for ‘homework (he gestures quotation marks with his hands as he says this), I ended up installing things like ‘Quake’ and ‘Duke Nukem’, and the rest is history really.”
Diving into his fond memories of gaming with his dad, we ask him to pick out his favourite gaming memory. His memory comes from his teens:
“I think there was a moment when I was around 16 or 18, and I was playing ‘Quake 2’ with a bunch of friends. I was winning a lot and teaching them my strategies and I started to realise I was pretty good at this whole gaming thing.”
Asking him if that’s when he started to think about streaming, he talks about how streaming wasn’t around at the time.
“Back then, streaming didn’t exist, so when ‘[Battlefield:] Bad Company 2’ came out, I started making a lot of sniper videos. I’d get a lot of comments asking me how I was doing it, how I knew how to leads shots, that sort of thing.
Then ‘Battlefield 3' came out and I started making tutorial videos, and I got loads of comments thanking me for explaining this stuff. I started exploring YouTube and Twitch further, and did it as a job on the side when I realised I could make money doing it. I did that until I was making more money from streaming than I was at my main job, and swapped over.”
Sacriel goes on to say that he enjoyed his previous job as a training executive and product manager for an Internet Service Provider, but asked what he’d be doing now if he hadn’t have gotten into streaming and content creation, he teases with some game development remarks:
“I like to think I’d be in gaming design in some form or another. Before I even knew I wanted to be a content creator, I always wanted to design my own games.”
When we asked if game design is something he’s still interested in pursuing, he answers cryptically:
“Yes. Watch this space.” (when asked if he’s still interested in pursuing game design)
Naturally our conversation swings around to discussion of his new PC, and his preferences for a single-PC set-up.
“The bottleneck is really the CPU. It’s a purely CPU load with the streaming, encoding, playing games, and so on. Using overclockable Intel CPUs means I never have to worry about those problems. I’d rather overclock my PC properly, than deal with the issues that come with a multi-PC set-up, like doubling visual/audio feeds, capture cards, and so on. One PC is just easier. There are less headaches.”
Discussing the Intel® Core™ i9-9900k set-up he’s upgrading to, Sacriel discusses not only how his gaming and streaming performance will improve drastically, but also covers other areas of his daily job that will see improvement.
“I do 2D and 3D art assets for my stream - 2D animations and 3D renders, things like that. I don’t have huge amounts of free time, so sitting there and waiting hours for renders to finish isn’t something I can realistically do. If I did do more YouTube, the amount of processing involved in daily videos would be massive, so the amount of time saved in the editing and rendering processes by the CPU is huge. Having a faster CPU pretty much benefits every aspect of having a PC.”
“Having a faster CPU pretty much benefits every aspect of having a PC.”
He goes onto to discuss the ins and outs of the better gaming performance with his new set-up.
“As a professional streamer, the better my PC is, the better my streaming set-up will be, and as a gamer, having a faster PC means faster loading times. Also so many games these days come out in early access with poor optimisation, so having that raw CPU power free to handle that kind of thing, is important to me.
When it comes to fast-paced shooting games (the mainstay of Sacriel’s streaming content), having that pure number-crunching performance to smooth out stutters can mean the difference between winning and losing a round.”
“That pure number-crunching performance to smooth out stutters can mean the difference between winning and losing a round.”
“On top of having an 8-core 5GHz CPU (he laughs when mentioning these absurdly high numbers), the storage options are equally fast. There’s no bottleneck in this system. The Intel® Optane™ drive will run my operating system and my games. I remember making the step up from a hard-drive to an SSD. The Intel® Optane™ drive makes my SSD feel like hard-drives, honestly. Then with all the recording I do in 1440p, I need that fast storage to keep up with that recording. I don’t think I could go back to a traditional SSD/hard-drive set-up now. Intel’s Optane has ruined me!”
When we begin to talk about the most exciting changes this will bring to his set-up, his face lights up as he talks about running benchmarks, the first thing he says he’s going to do.
“I have a brain that thrives on efficiency and cleanliness. Being able to glance over and see this beautiful machine that’s sitting there quietly, performing incredibly, it’s gonna be incredible. It’s the whole package. I’m going to be moving my camera constantly, showing my audience “look at this!”. It’s going to be great.”
We wrap up the interview by asking him some lighter questions, like what he’s going to call his new PC, and also how he’s getting it home (it’s huge).
“Honestly, I’ve not thought about it. I’ll probably call it Jeff, Jeff the PC. In terms of getting it home, I’ve rented a U.S Army Chinook that should arrive in the car park in a few hours."