Background: It has been eight years since I last did a major upgrade when I built my first gaming rig with a friend in a Coolermaster Cosmos S chassis with a Intel Core 2 Duo 3.16Ghz, 4GB of Ram and a Geforce GTX 280 with a ludicrous (at the time) 1GB of VRAM. With it being very old, getting slower, and not being able to play the latest games at anywhere near medium settings at 1080p, a power supply that buzzed at cable insertion, and with my deadline to upgrade to Windows 10 for free fast approaching, it was time for this Daddy to go on a spend up now that he has more time to play games.
Purpose: Gaming, working from home, having Windows 10 on a new machine, a PC that boots up in less than 10 seconds, and being able to last 5 years and still play games at a reasonable clip. Also to build a PC on my own with no help which has given me the itch to build more, can't wait until the kids need PCs of their own!
I choose the case first, always have, and then get the parts that will go in it (or not as was almost the case!).
Case: The Cooler Master Maker 5 - It was cheaper for me to buy the base unit for £50 and buy the upgrade to the Maker 5 direct from Cooler Master than to buy a Maker 5 ready made (by about £20), additionally this let me play around some more and the Maker 5 wasn't in stock anywhere in the UK for a good price.
Processor: Skylake i7 4GHz Quad Core, eminently overclockable while not producing a great deal of heat, had to have this.
CPU Cooler: It was between the Kraken and the a Corsair 240mm rad. I should have got a 240mm rad as despite some online video reviews stating it could take a 280mm rad in the top, the Cooler Master Maker 5 (and Pro) does not easily take a 280mm radiator up there, it is designed for a 240mm radiator if looking for a push exhaust with a radiator on top (which is what I was going to go for).
I almost cried when I tried to get the Kraken up there and realised it didn't fit, thankfully, and after a lot of cursing, a solution was found with putting the two 140mm fans on top of the radiator in a pull configuration and screwing through the fans to the radiator to mount it at the top of the case. It did mean I lost any chance of putting an optical drive in though.
Motherboard: I thought this motherboard had all the features, options, and looks I was after. The white and red looks awesome in my opinion though I know its not to everyone's tastes, the LED light up isn't as grand inside the case as I would have liked but the LED IO panel is a godsend. Together with two M.2 ports, 6 SATA III ports off the Intel chipset with a further two of an AS Media Chip, lots of USB 3.0, 3.1, and two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 headers as well.
Tips: If you are using a M.2 like I am, use the bottom M.2 slot on the motherboard marked M2H, it does sit behind the graphics card but it doesn't disable a host of SATA ports like the top M.2 slot does, it only disables the bottom PCIE slot. Another tip, connect the IO panel LED cable, 8 pin CPU power cable, and rear fan exchaust to the board before mounting the motherboard to the chassis, it gets quite tight up there with that large shroud and the radiator (less of a problem if you have more height clearance).
RAM: Last time I bought, I got 4 GB despite running Windows Vista 32 bit (yuck), given 8GB is recommended for gaming and 16GB is considered future proof, I went for 32GB to give myself lots of headroom and options down the road.
Storage:: Samsung 950 Pro M.2 using NVME and four lanes of PCIE. This is where my Windows 10 is installed and it is lightning fast. Also, a Samsung 850 EVO SSD for my Steam Library of multiplayer games (I think I should have got 1TB but may just buy another 500GB down the road). The Western Digital drives came from my old build and the 2TB is 4 years old but has seen little use.
Graphics card: I was going to hold off on this until prices came down but then I had the machine built and I wanted to play some games on it, I wasn't taking my dusty old one from my old machine and putting it in this so then it was decision time.... 1060, 1070, or 1080?
I went down the middle as I thought that offered the best value with 8GB of VRAM and fully capable of maxing out every setting on every game at 1200p. The Gigabyte offered an overclock, went with the rest of the build, and had great cooling.
Power supply: Before I built this and did the research for it I thought power supplys were virtually one and the same with just the metal mark describing its efficiency. How wrong I was. JonnyGuru I salute you and your reviews of PSU's which meant I bought the EVGA G2 Supernova which got a 9.8 score out of 10, dragged down by value. A top power supply, and having not had a fully modular or even semi-modular, oh the treat this was to build with. I am now very tempted by the red sleeved cable set they sell for this.... so tempted.
Performance: CPU idles at between 25 and 30c (averaging 27c) in an ambient temperature of 23c. The graphics card idles at 37c. Great results I think.
Under load the CPU never really gets near 60c, even with the Kraken in silent mode. The graphics card rarely gets to 60c, the fans kick in and get it back down to a gaming temperature of around 50c. The overall system at idle is around the same as the CPU with one hotspot near the graphics card.
These results are all before any overclocking has been done. I am very pleased with the machine and I think I've done okay on the cable management side, custom cables would make it a bit neater and nicer looking but compared to my last monstrosity in terms of cable management, I am happy with what has been achieved.
The blue tinge isn't really there in real life (as opposed to the photos) thats a Bitfenix Alchemy 2.0 white LED strip to light up the inside that is much closer to white in real life.
Ran a 3d Mark basic test with scores of 20243 for 3D Mark and a Combined Score of 11756. Apparently better than 97% of all results. It is what I expected given how much I spent.
Loving the quietness of this in silent mode and the temperatures I am acheiving paired with my i7-6700K CPU. Idles at 25c and max temp I've hit putting it under full load was 57c. Great results, I am sure would be slightly better in 'performance mode'.
Well worth the investment in this 280mm radiator, plus the CAM software is great, the RGB LED is completely customisable and the fans are pretty decent.
The LED lighting is not as great as I hoped but is still pretty decent. With a beefy graphics card the internal lighting is part obscured. Some lighting on the top left cover and bottom right cover would have added to the effect of this board.
Some notes on building with it, particularly the M.2 slots and their effects:
There are two M.2 slots. Depending on which type of M.2 you have changes what gets disabled. A SATA M.2 will disable one SATA port and one SATA express, with which ones depending on which M.2 slot is used.
A 4 lane PCIE M.2 will, if utilising the upper slot (labelled M2D), disable SATA ports 0-3 and the accompanying SATA express ports. Leaving you with use of ports 4 and 5 (controlled by the Intel chipset) and ports 6 and 7 (controlled by the AS Media Chip).
Utilising a 4 lane PCIE M.2 in the bottom slot (labelled M2H) will disable the third PCIe x16 slot as it shares lanes with that slot. Utilising this slot doesn't disable any SATA ports (provided it is not in RAID).
Believe me I know! I used the top slot first and couldn't utilise any of my drives plugged into the SATA ports, I then moved the M.2 to the bottom slot and everything is great.
Lightning fast for installing the operating system and making boot up time even quicker. Installing your main applications on an M.2 just makes it almost instantaneous, Firefox, Steam, and the like load up in a second. Windows boot up time is 5 seconds. Fantastic performance, very pleased. Sequential read of 2018 MB/s and sequential write of 934 MB/s. IOPS - Read 155005 and Write 76775.
I have the games I play online on Steam installed on this drive and it drastically reduces my loading times as you would expect. The drive is more expensive than equivalent capacity SSD's by other manufacturers but has better ratings, a longer expected life, and a long warranty. I'm gettting 551 MB/s sequent read, 527 write. Random Read (IOPS) 97,583 and Random Write 85469 at half full.
At the time of writing there are no prices for this in UK (18/08/16) but you can get it at overclockers which is where i got it a couple of weeks ago.
It is an absolute beast of a card which takes up just over two slots on the motherboard due to its unique 'stack' fan system of three overlapping 100mm fans. These appear to be pretty effective as the graphics card rarely exceeds 61c while gaming on auto mode. You can set it up with your own fan graph or choose Turbo, Auto, or Silent mode.
There is also the easy capability to use the software with the card to overclock and boost performance even further. This is an ideal card for those wishing to game on ultra high settings at 1440p at a frame rate of 60+ on even the most demanding games.
I am very pleased with this case. It is very solid construction with clever little touches such as retained thumb screws (thereby pleasing Dmitri at Hardware Canucks) so you don't lose them plus the retention of the side panel until you lift it away really adds to the premium feel of the case. The carrying handles at the top are very, very useful when building with this case as you turn it around frequently to put the parts in and manage the cables etc.
I've deducted one star because I believe it needs better cable management and maybe half an inch to an inch more space behind the motherboard tray for cables to run as it gets quite compressed back there.
If they found a way of stopping the cables interfering with putting the side panel back on that would be grand too! A raised metal bit that cables would press up against instead of the actual bit you put the side panel on would prevent any issues. I say this because my SATA power cables get a bit crushed for my HDD's when putting the side panel.
I would like more lighting options to be available to purchase to connect to the fan and lighting controller, and it is a shame the fan controller doesn't link to the motherboard for PWM control.
The case offers a host of SSD storage with two SSD mounts on the back of the motherboard tray and two on top of the PSU shroud. They can also go in the HDD cages. You can buy additional SSD pockets from the Cooler Master online store at about £5 a pop.
An additional note is that you can upgrade to this from a Master Case 5 or a Master Case Pro 5 by buying the upgrade kit direct from Cooler Master. Its what I did. Finally, you can get a 280mm radiator top mounted in this but it requires having the fans on top and getting it perfectly aligned to screw through the fans to the radiator to secure it, can be tricky.
Finally, finally, the HDD cage under the shroud can be moved back enough to a different position in order to accommodate a front mounted radiator.
P.S. The 3 drive cage above the shroud and the optical drive bay bracket can be completely removed. Can take three fans at the front, one at rear and two at top, 140mm or 120mm.
Great power supply, fully modular with lots of VGA and SATA power cables included. Packaging was something else, feel rude not to comment! Linus will be happy it was soft foam padded and the power supply came in a cloth bag as did the power cables which came in a separate bag. You can buy a fully sleeved set of cables in other colours with the red cables catching my eye and tempting my wallet.
This PSU is highly rate and got 9.8 on the renowned PSU review site, JonnyGuru. This power supply also operates in ECO mode when not being put under stress with no fans running. Great for quietness when working away.