I've always wanted to own a gaming PC but the cost always deterred me from getting one or building one versus just picking up a console that all my friends have. It wasn't until one of my good friends from college knew about my interest in PC's and was finally able to convince me to build one. Took about two weeks to do my research on the latest PC hardware, figuring out what components I would want based on my needs and all the info on how to put it together and get it up an running. So from a concept to finish product this build took over 3 weeks to find the right parts and put it together. With the first two weeks consisted of researching everything I could about PC's to make sure I didn't regret any of my purchases and the last was getting all the parts shipped in and put together.
When I started this build my original budget was about two notes, but as my knowledge in PC parts increased so did the budget....I just had a hard time buying components that weren't top of line, because I knew I would be frustrated if I played games at anything than max settings. This thought process fell well inline with my purpose of this build. I wanted a PC that could run any game at 1440p with max settings, also be great for productivity and capable of allowing me to do some research into VM's and machine learning as I am an IT major. So I basically was building a PC that would give me great performance no matter what I threw at it. Atheistically I did and I didn't care. Im not into the whole RGB thing either so I really just focused on performance more than looks.
This is why I based my build around the NZXT H630. If I did this again I would have defiantly bought a mid-tower case instead of a full but me not knowing how large a full actually was, picked up a way bigger case than I needed. There is still a lot of pro's' from picking up this case. It has many slots for fans and gave me great room for air flow and expandability into it as my needs see fit. What really drew me to this case was the fact that it was sound deadened. This checked the performance box for me. The fact that it is sound deadened meant I could run the games I want at max settings and have the case not sound like a box fan under load as I have read happens often with high end components. This box really solidified my performance ambitions over looks because of the absence of a window.
Which brings me to my cooling. For fans, going with Noctua's was a pretty easy choice. Their highly respected it seems by everyone in the industry and they are really good at keeping my components cool while not making much noise at all. The 3 NF-12's I purchased to replace the three fans that came with the Thermaltake 360 rad. The four NF-A14's were purchased for their airflow and used as intakes on the bottom and front of the case. The single NF-P12 was purchased to replace the fan on the 120mm rad that came with the GTX 1080 FTW Hybrid. The only reason I didn't get another NF-12 was because the card had only a 3 pin fan header and the NF-12 supports a 4 pin fan header. The fans are setup in a pretty basic method. The bottom and front fans are used as intake's with those fans specializing in moving a lot of air into the case. Then the air is exhausted through the back and top. This is why I really replaced the fans on the rads. As the rads covers my exhaust, I needed to have fans that specialized in high static pressure to move that hot air in my case past the radiators so I would have a reasonable amount of positive pressure. I liquid cooled the CPU because I love how it looks instead of a large heatsink and also I understand that it will keep a CPU at lower temps than a heatsink with a fan initially and even keep its temps lower by a few degrees under load over a extended period of time. Thermaltake water 3.0 ultimate was one of few 360 AIO coolers I found and they were also highly recommended. It came with thermal paste already on it but as I read there thermal paste is not great, so I wiped it off then replaced it with Arctic MX4, than after watching a Linus's Tech Tips video, bought Arctic Silver 5 and wiped off the MX4 then applied the Silver 5. I honestly haven't noticed any difference but maybe I haven't applied it as efficiently as I was supposed to. Also kept the same principal with the GPU, plus I figured that if I move the heat as far away from the components and close as possible to the outside of the case, that would mean less stress on my intake fans to cool the air and components inside the box, meaning quieter performance overall. *Adding the CFM values up from fans, I find that while my fans are at max speeds my exhaust is 219.4 CFM's and my intake is 330 CFM. Giving me a difference of 110.6 CFM, meaning I have positive pressure in my case. I then took that and tried to match that difference when setting the fan curve. The fans are pretty quite to almost non existent unless under full load.
The motherboard was a purchase that I looked into but not that deeply. Asus is a pretty respected company for motherboards and their Hero line was really popular. Plus is had all the headers and specs I needed for my build so I decided that I wouldn't have to buy the best motherboard out there when this one has everything I needed. This obviously had a big impact on what CPU I went with. Instead of going with more than 4 cores I decided to buy the fastest CPU with four cores and the 7700k just came out....great timing! I knew that when I begin to experiment with VM and other projects I probably would have wanted to go with a CPU with more cores but I think I will be able to get by with just 4 very fast cores for now. As this was also my first time overclocking, I had a bit of an issue getting it stable at 5ghz as I have read many people do, but I have been able to get it stable at 4.7ghz using RealBench.
I opted for G.SKills memory because they were highly recommended especially for a gaming config. I picked up the 3200 speed because I know when I get to VM's I am going to want fast memory also this is why I picked up two sticks of 16g's. For now 32gb's is more than I need but as I get into VM's I at least have two more slots that I can add up to 32gb's as needed for a total of 64gb's. Getting the UEFI to recognize the 3200 memory speed is tricky though. Im still not sure if it is running at that speed after putting on XMP profile since when I'm in Windows it always says 2133 but when in UEFI it recognizes my DIMM's at 3200. For my gaming purposes this is well more than what I need. I dont think I have ever used more than 40% of the total memory available yet.....
The storage was also something I had to look into a bit as m.2 were new to me. If the 960 pro were at a reasonable price or even readily available I would have went with them but they aren't so I got the Plextor M8pe instead for now. I have had no issues and the drive runs great. It doesn't give me 960 performance but it still puts my 850 pro SSD to shame. It also comes with NVMe tech, which I am not sure if that its turned on yet, I will have to do some research into that but once the prices become more reasonable for the 960 pro's that Plextor will be swapped out for a 960 pro. I use my Plextor as my boot drive with all the programs loaded from there and then I divided my game library between my 850 pro and the Plextor based on space. I have nothing on my Samsung HDD for the reason that I cant stand how slow it is after using my other extremely fast drives. It's only in here in case I run out of room before I get another 850 pro. This is the one area I really cheaped out on. Initially I didn't have a 850 pro and all my games were coming off the HDD. I got frustrated pretty quickly that I had all these super fast components and my HDD was my bottleneck which pushed me to get the 850 pro. In the future that spinning HDD will be gone and i'll have all 850 pro's in a raid 10 setup. I honestly will pay more for SSD's than to put any HDD's in because it doesn't make sense for me to have all this high performance parts then have that old tech in my build and the load times are so noticeable, it makes it frustrating to go back.
This is what really started the increase of my original budget.......the gtx 1080. I initially wanted to be able to play games in 4k, as I came from console gaming, 4k is the big push. When shopping around I was looking at either a 1070 or 1060 then I started seeing that even the 1080 has trouble pushing games at 4k while keeping a respectable Fps. So then I said to myself well I have to go with just not a 1080 but the GTX 1080 FTW Hybrid. I also released my ambition to game at 4k for a couple of reasons. I didn't want to buy two of these cards because thats just too much money for me, the more research I did I found out 1440p is a sweet spot for gaming and the added pixel density at 4k wouldn't necessarily look better for gaming unless I went with a large display, lastly I didn't want to try and run games at 4k and get low fps rates then have to downgrade the resolution or settings. So I figured this card would allow me to play whatever game maxed out at least at 1440p with good fps averages and goes along well with cooling setup. As far as I can tell, I was right. I even over clocked this card to 2150mhz and it runs every game I throw at it well with fps's average around 70 on the most demanding games and the card never goes over 50 degrees Celsius. One game that I have played that gives my card some problems is GTA V with REDUX and max settings. The FPS average I see is around 45fps, but other than that battlefield, hitman, and Tomb Raider all run great and well above 60fps.....Haven't tried Crysis 3 yet.
The power supply to power all this was probably my least researched area honestly. I found some good recommendations that EVGA was a good manufacture for power supplies and I went with them. My max draw is 495watts with no overclock so I picked up the GS 650W which gives me 23% head room under max load. With the overclock setting I do not exactly know what the max load will be but I figured I would still have enough headroom not to stress the PSU too much.
As for the Monitor....I LOVE IT. Ive seen gaming on a 4k monitor now and I still would pick my Dell U34 ultra wide over a 4k monitor any day. For gaming and productivity its awesome. It came with a display manager program that makes its very easy to split up the screen to various well spaced out boxes that my programs easily snap into. Even though the monitor is at a 60hz refresh rate I still really enjoy it for gaming. This is my first time getting into PC gaming though so I dont really know the difference between 60hz and 144hz but as for now I'm pretty content with gaming on this ultrawide at 1440p at 60hz. The graphics still impress me when I start playing games coming from the Xbox One.
The keyboard and mouse were greatly influenced from my friend. The Das Keyboard 4 Ultimate looks awesome. The materials used makes the finish not just look nice but also feel nice, espcially with the Cherry MX Brown keys. What drew me to this keyboard was the no logos on the top made it really unique and look cool, but the downside obviously is that its hard to use for gaming when your looking for specific keys and your fingers aren't on the home row. I think I will pick up a specific gaming keyboard thats backlit and keep this one specifically for productivity. Logitechs G502 mouse was a great pick I believe by myself. Its super accurate and also very easy to customize through its own program that came with the mouse. I really cant find any complaints for it and I doubt I will.
All in all I had a lot of fun with my first build. I am so happy I finally did it and the performance I have seen so far from it is awesome. I would love for you guys to comment and critique my build so I could learn the things I did right and wrong and possibly make a couple of changes that will give me better performance and reliability off your guys recommendations. I think I did a good job on the cable management side. I dont think I will get custom cables because its not like anyone can see the cables inside the box anyways, but I figured good cable management couldn't hurt improving the airflow and just making it look clean at least.
*Pictures are from when I first finished the case, I'll upload new ones with the 850pro in the back and the full setup at the desk later.