After years of building and fixing computers for other people, here's my second computer ever. My last complete build was in 2003 when I was 12, and I switched to laptops in 2008, so I haven't been in the scene for a while! Given that I've doubled my age (and multiplied my uses for a computer since then), I decided to splurge. I work with lots of data that's meant to be private, love to play video games, and am a freelance graphic designer. So, with this computer I'm trying to hit a sweet spot in the middle between being ready for future parts and being able to have great performance now. I also set four main goals for myself with this build: To have extremely quiet operation, to boot in less than 5 seconds (I've never owned an SSD), to be Oculus Rift/HTC Vive compatible, and for a lot of the parts to be quality parts that will last me 5-7 years - all with the trade-offs being size, power consumption and price.
For future updates, some of the things I want to do are a little bit more extreme: I might be putting in a custom water loop to sort the mess of cables I can't improve right now. Someone in Qatar has clearly already measured everything out for me and I also want to figure out how to switch out the red LEDs running through the outside of the case with NZXT HUE+ custom lighting, but I can't immediately find a way to pop out the casing for the LEDs so that'll have to wait.
I know the cabling is not the greatest, and I'm planning on some 8-pin extensions to loosen up some of the tension around the 24-pin connector, but honestly the parts I picked come with a lot of cables (water coolers, lots of usb connectors on the case, two different corsair link pieces of hardware) and I maybe should have considered that when I was buying everything. But the case is closed and the cooling potential is great so I don't mind for now!
All of the prices are shipping and tax inclusive. I started out with a budget of $3500, but I'm guessing by the time I'll be done with the build it'll be more like $6500. The feature creep was real with this one!
Excited to see what everyone thinks!
Without further ado, here's are the parts reviews;
I picked the i7-6700K for my build because I wanted something that will last generations. My next processor will be during Intel's Cannonlake generation or later to make use of its AVX-512 compatibility - a huge bonus for data analysis. As such I wanted to get something that I can overclock so it can last me at least a die shrink/generation or two of processors without giving up processing ability in the interim. So far it runs flawlessly, and all my data analysis is a snap (even for loops in R)!
This is one place I absolutely needed to pick properly so that all my craziness in picking other parts can come together. I needed a 2280 m.2 slot that runs in SATA mode for my SSD, I needed a minimum four midboard USB3 ports for my case (which I'll in turn need for the VR headset I'm buying at the end of the year), I needed at least 6 SATA 3 6Gb/s ports so I can populate all of the case's hard drive bays, and I needed a good UEFI implementation for my quickboot. On top of all of this, I wanted a ridiculously long warranty so I can carry the motherboard forward for a few side-builds in the future. I didn't opt for the Shield from the Sabertooth Z170 Mark 1 simply because I personally think it's superfluous. This motherboard is a monster, I wasn't building carefully at all with it and was pushing and tugging on parts all over the place and it never gave way. That TUF moniker is really well earned in this case, and both the design and OLED lights are fantastic!
I stuck to the basics when it came to RAM for my build. Since my motherboard hits its memory bandwidth limit at 2400MHz, I went for the cheapest option I found and I limited my purchase two sticks to give me the option to expand if I start working with larger files later. None of the RAM kits currently available in 2x16GB configurations hit my previous CAS/size requirements, so I stuck with 2x8GB for now. Oddly, UEFI/BIOS recognize this RAM's bandwidth at 2133MHz, and the decorative sticker that came on the RAM is pretty low quality stuff.
I haven't finalized this part of my build yet because I'm waiting for a good sale on hard disks. Maybe newegg's summer sale this year. I definitely wanted an SSD (and what a change it is!) and opted to use the newfangled m.2 connector. I've heard good things about the 850 Evo so I opted for the m2 version of that drive. This thing is a beast. My motherboard had like three different settings I needed to change to detect the connected m.2 drive, but it's extremely fast, snappy, and easy to install. I've maxed out my internet download speed (250Mbps) finally!
I really struggled to decide between a Fury X and the 980 Ti (I was leaning for the ASUS Strix), especially given that some developers are favoring GameWorks use recently. But then a sale came around for the Fury X at the same time as some DX12 benchmarks came out showing it'll age better for the next few years (due to a hardware implementation of asynchronized compute), and the draw of a really quiet, really cool graphics card got to me. Can't say I regret my decision, I haven't been able to get its thermals above 65 degrees yet! Steam says it's VR ready and I've happily maxed out every game I've played without any issues!
So this is the part of the build that excites me the most. If PC building is a hobby, then the case you pick for your build really decides how you will build and what you will build! I remember drooling about the Level 10 cases when they were first announced, and I am beyond psyched to have one for myself. Building in this thing was not easy, especially because the gaps between the back compartment and the front compartment aren't made of really high quality rubber. Additionally, the case being so humongous really makes it difficult for some cables to get to where they should be (my graphics 6-pin connectors couldn't reach my Fury X if I tried to run them through the lower hole in the motherboard plate, for example). That said, the case is gorgeous, it came with two great fans that I might replace Corsair's H80i GT fans with at some point, and it has excellent dust filters everywhere (some of my pictures here are taken after running my computer on non-stop for a week, and no dust has built up). Overall, I have complete confidence that I'll be using this case for years and years and years, and I cannot be happier with it. It's just not the most convenient thing in the world.
I wanted a power supply that will last me a while (this one comes with a warranty until 2023), I wanted one that was modern (corsair link), reviewed well, silent (the fans don't spin under 20% usage). That left me with either the 760i or the 860i. Since the efficiency curves for both peak at 50% (and the price difference was 20CAD), I got the 860i (once I populated my system with hard drives, I should be using about 60% under stress, but most of the time I'll use 40% or less). Additionally, the extra bit of headroom between the two mean that my system stays silent under 344W draw, instead of 304W draw. It's not a lot, but it's significant! The cables that come with it are incredible, the added software is extremely helpful for 1-click optimizations and its voltage regulation is pretty much flawless. I cannot possibly feel safer or happier about my power supply choice!
Originally I was going to get a normal 1080p monitor with great color balance, but when I got my hands on the Fury X I realized an extra hundred or two would get me a gorgeous FreeSync panel. My local NCIX had a great gaming BenQ on sale, and the rest is history. I love this thing to bits coming from a 13" Macbook Pro screen. It's huge, and bright, and beautiful, and my games are so smooth! The quick-select settings for movies/games/balanced options are a little too wild for my tastes (I'm using setting FPS1 for everything), but the panel itself has no light-bleed, no dead pixels and works wonderfully. I still honestly wouldn't recommend it at its current price, but at $499 it would be a no-brainer as the best monitor on the market.
I just got the DeathAdder Chroma because I wanted to use music synchronized RGB lighting, and it's so much fun! It's like holding a little bit of fireworks in my hands when my music is playing. So far I've been running into an intermittent disconnection problem, but that might be due to the lighting settings I have. A quick unplug/replug usually sorts it out. The Razer Synapse software mis-recognizes the mouse's identity, but still gives me a chroma tab, so I'm not sure what that's about.