So, this is actually a rebuild of my PC, which I did several months ago and posted here. The original build contained two Windforce GTX 970s in SLI, which has since changed. It also had water cooling for the CPU, which has changed. I also replaced fans and did more meticulous cable management.
First of all, I replaced the two GTX 970s with a single 980 because I found that there's not much that a single 970 or 980 won't run on their own. Even when I would play games that had SLI profiles and were nicely optimized, I didn't really notice any performance difference between two 970s or running a single 970. So, I decided to sell one of the 970s and put the other one in my backup gaming PC, which I have posted on this site as well and, instead, went with a single 980. So far, there really hasn't been a game that I can't max out at 1080p, for the most part. I can't always crank MSAA or anti-aliasing and maintain a steady 60fps, which is what I prefer. I can crank everything and stay well above 30fps, but 60 is where I always want to be, so occasionally, I have to turn down one or two advanced settings. But, most of the time, it makes little visual impact. There were also a few games that just didn't want play well with SLI and would micro-stutter and such. I figure this 980 will hold me for a good couple of years and by that time, I can probably get another 980 and maybe go SLI at that time and really give my system new legs.
The other major change is that I eliminated my CPU water cooling. The pump on the particular model I had was kind of loud and I just always had the lingering worry in the back of my mind about springing a leak. Although, rare, it happens, obviously. So, I picked up a Cooler Master EVO212. Normally, I'd have gone with something a little more fancy, but the, pretty much, universal critical acclaim that this cooler has gotten, considering it's price, made me take the plunge and I have to say, for a $30-$40 cooler, it is beyond amazing. Seriously, my water cooler did a very nice job, and this air cooler still bests it by a few degrees. Now, to be fair, my water cooler was a single rad unit, but still. You'd expect a water cooler to beat a budget air cooler, which was not true in my case. I did replace the stock Cooler Master fan which came on the EVO with a Corsair fan. If you read reviews for the EVO212, it seems the fan is people's biggest complaint, most of the time. But, I've got my processor overclocked to 4.5Ghz and this cooler keeps things down almost, if not as low and the stock clock temps. Highly recommended!
Along with that, I re-ran all of my cabling and also removed some cabling that I originally had installed and realized I didn't need and could do without for now. I also installed a spare Blu-ray writer that I bought a couple years ago and had left over from an old PC. I absolutely have to have an optical drive. I always burn music, movies and backup discs. I don't know how people can do without one.
Now, I know a lot of people gave me **** with my earlier build because my motherboard is red and my main theme is blue. Well, the short of it is, I got the motherboard for a good deal at the time and color coordination was out of sight, out of mind. HA HA!!! Although, I don't think the little red on the motherboard looks too terrible along with the blue. Other minor tweaks I made include coloring the PCI-E cable ends to black, from red, to match the cabling better and it looks worlds better going into the graphics card.
The case, a Thermaltake a31 is fantastic. There's plenty of room for expansion and it has great airflow. I might go with a full size tower on my next build, just because I'd love to have a ton of extra room, but this case is perfect for your average build. I'm running two 120mm fans at the front, taking in air, which passes it to the EVO212, through the heatsink, and into the rear 120mm fan, which blows everything out of the back. Honestly, the airflow setup for this case, coupled with an air cooler such as the EVO goes perfectly together.
I went with a reference EVGA 980 Super-clocked. I've always liked how clean and simple reference style cards look, compared to gaudy aftermarket designs, with heatsinks, heatpipes and fans hanging out all over the place. People say that reference style cards run hotter, but I set up a custom fan profile in MSI Afterburner and this card runs exactly as cool as my two Windforce 970s did and isn't any louder.
The SSD starts windows in, probably, less than 10 seconds. For the love of God, to anyone out there who hasn't yet upgraded to an SSD for their operating system. Do yourself a favor and buy one! Holy Lord, these things make a world of difference! I've got two 1TB hard drives pulling duty for games and data, one Seagate and one Western Digital, both fantastic, can't go wrong either way! The power supply is a Thermaltake Smart Power 850 watt. It's probably a little overkill even for the 980. But, I got it for a sweet deal, so I took it. I'll have plenty of room for upgrades if and when the time comes. RAM is two 8GB sticks of Ripjaw. Again, 16GB is probably overkill, but for the slight price increase, I opted to have 16GB just in case, considering budget wasn't a huge issue at the moment. I think everyone knows why I picked the processor I did. It really needs no introduction. So far, mine overclocks great and even at stock, it flies, no matter what you're doing.
I do have a 25" Asus PC monitor for light duty on this PC. I also have the PC split at an HDMI switch, running to an Onkyo TX-NR809 receiver which is powering two tower speakers, a center channel speaker, and four 10" suboofers, as well as wall mounted surround sound speakers for a 5.4 surround sound setup. This is all complimented with a 60" Sony Bravia 3D TV. That is where all of the gaming takes place. To be honest, web browsing and everything else usually happens on the 60" as well. The 25" is usually reserved if I just want do something quick and don't feel like firing up all of the main gear. A 25' Monster HD1000 HDMI cable runs the length of the room from the PC to the 60".
All in all, a great PC and I couldn't be happier with all of these parts. This is likely where I will stop the tinkering and will use this PC for the next few years until I decide to build something better when the time comes. So far, there's been nothing that this can't handle.