This is the first time I've built a PC for personal use. I actually built this in June, but decided I'd put it here now anyway. I wanted a high-end machine that was capable of gaming but based around school and small business - therefore it must be able to run VS 2015, Solidworks 2015, Inventor 2015, Adobe video/photo editing software, in addition to many popular game titles such as the Batman: Arkham series. I'm not going to be playing Battlefield 4, Witcher 3, or the like, however, so the GTX 960 will do just fine for now. Here's a (not so) brief overview of each part and why I chose it.
Update August 14 2015: Added blue LED strips along the edges to give a little more color, and cable managed the whole desk so virtually no cables are visible. Set up my Raspberry Pi 2 over on the left, and moved the power strip to under the desk with a cable routing sleeve along the back to hold everything up. No more snagging the Ethernet cable with my feet or accidentally disconnecting the monitor from time to time! :) Also added a Logitech G502 mouse, which I'm much more happy with.
Let me explain a little about my choice here. I know I bought the highest-end overclocking board and a CPU that's practically begging to be OC'd, but I want this CPU to last. I'll get to the reasons I picked the board in a second, but the CPU is the highest base clock and thread count CPU I could find at the time, without paying the premium for X99 and DDR4. It's preformed extremely well, outperforming my previous computer in PhotoView 360 (SolidWorks' CPU-based rendering software) by nearly 400%. The reason I went with the i7 was the video editing and 3D CAD software I'll be running. No need to upgrade to Skylake because the chips are very similar, at least without overclocking.
The Hyper 212 Evo is universally regarded as the best CPU air cooler for the price, and I'd agree. With the Noctua NF-F12 3000RPM cooling fan I strapped on there (The stock fan was too loud, and the Noctua never gets above 1500RPMs anyway), the non-overclocked CPU barely hits 60 under load, and idles at 35. See the Noctua review for more info about that
So perhaps the $250 Z97-PRO with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB 3.1 support, BIOS flashback, etc. was a little overkill. But these are all features I use on a daily basis. It saved me the cost of buying both a Wi-Fi card and audio card (I'm no audiophile, but the Crystal Sound 2 has been very good so far) and features like the BIOS flashback has saved me from a bricked board several times already, so I consider it a win. With support for SLI and up to 64GB of RAM, this board ought to last as long as the CPU, which could be quite a long time indeed, especially without overclocking.
I'm no RAM expert, but I do know that 1600mhz is a little slow for modern ram, but I did not know that when I got it. Performance is quite good, actually (at least there's been no ram-related issues), but I wish I'd picked up some 2400 or even 2800mhz RAM since the board I got is capable of that. Heat spreaders are a little tall but thankfully the cooler and board I got allows for as tall as you can fit. some of that. Solid 3 stars
Absolutely wonderful. The read/write/4k speeds are exactly as advertised and with a warranty that lasts 40GB writes/day for 10 years, I can't imagine it will ever fail. Just waiting for Samsung to update their software so I can make full use of that RAPID feature (RAM caching for the SSD). I haven't even filled half of the SSD yet, even with my steam library downloaded to it.
Funny story here. This is the HDD that came out of my laptop when I upgraded that to an SSD (Samsung 850 EVO 250GB) and has been my mass storage ever since. It seemed to be failing in the laptop, but after a zeroing it on a mac, seems to be running fine. Of course, I won't be keeping vital data on it, but it works as video and mass media storage.
Now on the flipside of the motherboard, the graphics card is the other thing people might talk about on this build. However, I don't game on the latest titles, and my 960 has held up admirably - Batman Arkham Origins runs at 40FPS at 4K with AA disabled and a custom medium/high settings blend. Certainly not "PC gamer master race" worthy but respectable for just over $175. This would be the first major upgrade when I have the budget though - GTX 980 or 980 Ti? Maybe a second 960 for SLI? Yet to decide - probably going to wait for Pascal architecture, that's looking like a really good option right now. Also, I'm looking at getting a Quadro or FirePro to go along with it, which will greatly accelerate the 3D CAD capability of the machine. Thoughts on one for $300-500?
This is the one part of this build I regret. I didn't spend much time researching the case aspect of the build when I bought all the parts, and didn't realize this was missing several key features. While it does have front USB 3.0, and a SSD hot swap bay, it does not include a reset button or any SSD-specific mounting points, and has too many required cables - 3 MOLEX plugs for the case alone! No! Now, the HDD bays are capable of mounting the 2.5" drives, so that worked out, but overall, the construction of the case isn't very solid. I actually broke the first HDD rail when taking it out, and the plastic/metal exterior is a little unorthodox. The top and front panels are difficult to get off, and the included fans are average at best. Hoping that when I get some LEDs inside the case it'll look a little nicer, but I should have gotten a Fractal Design or Corsair case in black to go with the rest of the black parts. Oh well. It's got plenty of space for an all in one water cooler or even a custom loop if I decide to go down that route ever, so that's nice.
Nothing to see here, pretty typical psu. Very reliable, it performs, and the 750w should be enough even for SLI on midrange cards or a single high-end card if I ever get there. Semi-modular cables a disappointment but oh well.
Nothing special, picked it up at hard drives northwest for quite cheap. Only going to use it a few times, and it hurts the aesthetic of the case, so might pull it out sometime soon.
I got the OS for free - started beta testing 10 in June and Microsoft allowed their beta testers to get the final version for free. I love Windows 10 though, it seems much more streamlined, fast, easy to use (without a touchscreen), and optimized for efficiency.
Noctua has been amazing in terms of the airflow it can produce - if you need really fast airflow and don't mind some noise, these are the fans for you. Works great on my Hyper 212 EVO and pushes so much air straight through that I don't have my back case fan running until the CPU hits 60C
Very happy with this choice. Since most of what I do is web surfing, programming, and CAD, the 4k is so nice to have, and Windows 10 all but fixes the scaling problems noticed in earlier Windows, so I have no complaints, other than games at 4k eats up GPU VRAM and 2GB is often not enough, so 1080p or occasionally 1440 is often the compromise. When I do play at 4k though, wow is it sharp. Color reproduction is more than decent, as are response times. It's not a dedicated gaming monitor, but I'm not a dedicated gamer.
LOVE IT! This is my first experience with mechanical keyboards, and I'll never go back - using a membrane keyboard at the school or on my laptop is painful and slow, and I miss my macro keys! With virtually 18 macro keys (6 keys and 3 modes per key), browsing, Office, and general tasks, not to mention gaming, just got so much faster. The aesthetic is really nice, and the backlighting is a surprisingly useful feature. Worth the price.
I'm extremely happy with this mouse - all the things that were wrong with my first mouse (the talon) have been fixed and the general feel is amazing.
It's a cheap mouse. I forgot to pick up a mouse and just asked someone if they'd pick me up one on the way home one day. Didn't even think about it - arrived with this and was glad it only cost $20. Anyway, that'll be the first to go. The LEDs aren't configurable, they just flash in random colors, and the only features are 5-way DPI button and forward/back thumb buttons. Moderate quality tracking, DPI settings are at least usable.