~Foreword~ I believe that everybody should have an influence that they desire to emulate. For me, that one person is Christopher Hitchens, who although passed away five years ago still continues to have an impact on modern society. He certainly has made a positive impact in my life, and I desire to dedicate this build to him. Some of you may disagree; please feel free to.
And now prepare yourselves for a “tl;dr” type of story.
The machine you see before you has undergone changes over the past year and a half that are too many to describe. Every single component has its own unique story. It started life with a 4790K inside a Corsair 350D and being cooled by a H100i, to being cooled by a custom loop, to X99 with a 5820K, to a Phantecks Enthoo Pro M with hardline tubing, to a temporary Dell Optiplex chassis and air cooling, and now to a Silverstone TJ-08 with a 5960X. Truly this is electronic evolution at its finest. You will likely wonder why I opted out of custom liquid cooling, which you may rightfully ask. Simply put, I grew sick of the maintenance, hassle, and numerous near-disaster incidents I’ve experienced with this type of cooling. I honestly have no idea how you guys with three-way SLI in a loop put up with it; you have my sincerest respect. Finally, after accidentally spilling coolant on a GTX 980 and killing it (luckily none of my other components suffered) I completely did away with the custom loop and sold the cooling gear to halfway finance the 5960X. With that out of the way, let’s examine the individual components, shall we?
~CPU~ The 5820K I had when I switched from Z97 to X99 was getting me along just fine. I had all the PCIe expansion I needed plus two extra cores. Being a heavy video editor and CAD dev, however, I became greedy and desired more power. Thus I introduced the 5960X to my motherboard. Most rational people would have probably gone the route of a Xeon, but my testicular fortitude kicked in and I opted for overclockability rather than stability and low power consumption. In the end, I did see a performance improvement, but it was negligible compared to the cost I suffered. The purchase was indeed regrettable, but at the very least I have a fair bit of bragging rights before Broadwell-E launches.
~Cooler~ Yes, I am a Noctua fanboy. I always have been and probably always will be. The NH-U14S became a reality thanks to a discount code from Newegg. Both to my amazement and dismay, this cooler performs slightly better than my full custom loop. Realizing that a single 140mm air cooler performs better than liquid cooling that costed more than ten times as much, I didn’t know whether to be infuriated or impressed. Regardless, it exceeds all my expectations. I keep a mild 4.0 GHz overclock in the CPU just to keep temps and noise to a minimum. It is just within margin of usability in my case. I should have gone this route sooner.
~Motherboard~ I stumbled onto the ASrock X99M Fatal1ty completely by accident. At the time, no other boards on the X99 platform in mATX really wow-ed me; they all had gimmicky features whose only reason for existence was so that the manufacturer could increase the price by 25%. I was even considering going back to X79 with the Asus Rampage IV Gene because at the time Asus didn’t have a X99 board in mATX (until they launched the X99M-WS a month later… I still haven’t forgiven Asus for that). Nothing would ever be as good as the luxury that is the ROG BIOS… at least, that’s what I thought. The BIOS is mainly what makes or breaks a board for me, and the Fatal1ty BIOS did not disappoint. Everything about this motherboard was on-par with what I desired. I can formulate only two complaints: the inexcusable lack of PWM fan headers and a very lackluster rear I/O. I realize this is a mATX board, but would it really kill you guys to put a few more fan headers on it? Another thing I thought of at the last minute is that it has no on-board display output. In other words you NEED a discrete GPU should you decide to invest in this board. If you want an overclocking board but don’t wish to play around with voltages and BClk, look no further. Their preset OC profiles are rock solid all the way to 4.6 GHz. Beware the obvious heat hazards, however.
~RAM~ No exasperating story here. I never put too much thought into memory other than capacity and the semi-meaningless speed. I originally got a 16 GB kit then another, as I like keeping literally dozens of tabs open in my browser and Sony Vegas loves to consume a good portion. I also keep a 10 GB RAMdisc profile for blazing fast editing purposes. It’s truly fantastic.
~Storage~ I purchased the Samsung 850 Evo the very second they were available. With my aging Kingston V200 nearing its 128 GB capacity limit, I needed something better. I must say, for those who desire high performance, but don’t wish to spend a lot of money on a new CPU/mobo, an SSD (a properly reliable one at least—I’m looking at you, Kingston V300) is possibly the best investment you could make. I highly recommend it. The Seagate Barracuda 3 TB is actually the only remaining part that is completely original to this build from back in 2014. It is now actually nearing its capacity limit (1080p raw video footage and over 30,000 high resolution pictures does take its toll) and I am considering crafting a NAS to counteract that. I am also looking to replace that drive with an actual NAS drive of some sort—I’m thinking of either an enterprise grade Seagate Constellation or a WD Red. It must be a quiet drive, so let me know in the comments.
~GPU(s)~ Since I killed a $500 graphics card with my coolant, I quickly needed a replacement solution. Thankfully I had a friend very nearby who was looking to rid himself of a HP Pavilion with a single GTX 760. We agreed on a $75 pricepoint on the card and I walked away a less irritated PC builder. I later purchased a second 760 for $100 on eBay. This meant I could no longer use my 7-port USB 3.0 card, but I have graphics horsepower that rivals most GTX 970s. I am only using a single 1080p 60 Hz panel at the moment, so having a Titan X is somewhat unnecessary. Although the 2 GB VRAM buffer is sometimes a limiting factor in games. Priorities…
~Case~ I have lusted after the TJ-08 since I first started compiling the parts list for my original “Deadpool” 350D build. Alas, I desired liquid cooling capability over actual performance. The Phantecks Enthoo Pro M was certainly a very nice and cooling friendly case, but ridding myself of the custom loop meant I had an ATX mid tower with considerable amounts of empty space inside. I considered numerous options such as the Fractal Define Mini, the Silverstone PS-07 (strikingly similar to the TJ-08 but with a different front panel layout), and even the non-windowed version of the Corsair 350D. Just when I was about to commit to the Fractal Define Mini I decided to browse eBay to see if I could obtain something used for cheaper. That was a very wise decision, because it landed me on a case that normally costs over $100. It was $50 shipped to my doorstep, and although it was missing the original box and a good many screws I made do. I absolutely adore this case and it perfectly suits all of my needs. Absolutely no complaints outside of the construction that is unnecessarily complicated by the use of screws on nearly every square centimeter. This is probably more of a good thing than a bad thing, though. Even with its limited number of fans the case still does a splendid job of keeping the components cool, all while being 30 liters in cubic space. I couldn’t have asked for more.
~Power Supply~ For the longest time I made do with a Corsair CS 550M. Yes, I laughed when thinking about that too. I also obtained this marvelous piece of electrical engineering as a result of a Newegg promo code. I later modded the cables with black widow weave paracord, a decision I now regret because at the time of making them I was using an ATX case. Fitting all of those long cables inside this miniscule case was, at best, problematic. Thank goodness for cable management space behind the mobo tray; I have no idea how I would ever manage without it.
I know that was probably an excruciatingly long read, but thank you for your consideration anyway. I treasure your upvotes and your comments. Now onto real life…