This is my first build. Chose the parts I did because this is a gaming rig (though I've been in the PC gaming world for a while now through my POS laptop). The build was smooth and relatively easy, and everything worked as intended. Most of these parts were bought on Black Friday, and the build was completed on December 7th (after test-benching first, of course). When all the software was installed (my father got a free copy of Windows 7 Professional from his job) and everything seemed to be working fine, I stowed the beast away for 18 days until Christmas. I've been running the system solid now for a good week and change, and it hasn't even blinked. Great system overall and I can't say I'm anything less than delighted with it. One extra thing-I'm using an old Optical Drive on this rig. It's a DVD and CD Reader/Writer with an old engraving tool from HP called LightScribe.
CPU - I got this Processor as part of a deal Microcenter was having-namely, that their 4690ks were only 200 dollars and that, when bought with a Z97, the board would be significantly less. Seeing as I won't be doing any heavy computing besides gaming, the i5 fits my needs and runs everything I need it to without a hitch. Great CPU overall.
CPU Cooler - This isn't the most popular CPU cooler ever, but it sure is great. At a performance threshold somewhat higher than that of the Hyper 212 EVO, it keeps my i5 nice and cool whether at idle or under load. Furthermore, it comes with a beautiful red LED fan that really brightens up the inside of the case. Will be great for when/if I want to overclock my CPU in the future.
Motherboard - As mentioned above, this motherboard was purchased in tandem with my i5. The reason the price is listed as 130 bucks is because although it was really 110 with the combo deal, there was tax -_- but it was still significantly cheaper than buying online. It was a total of 330 dollars for both. The motherboard looks great, for starters. Capacitors look sturdy and MSI testifies as much. Installing everything on this board was easy. I chose this board partially because it matched my color scheme, but also because the other boards around this price point that were also black and red, the Gigabyte Z97 Gaming 5 and ASRock Z97 Killer, had things I didn't like about them (irregular atx shape for the Gigabyte, no SLI support for the ASRock). Additionally, as the GFX card I wanted was from MSI, I've heard around a lot that aftermarket cooled cards work best with motherboards of the same brand.
RAM - Simply put, I picked this RAM up for 2 reasons: One, it is easily one of the most popular RAM models available and is rated for high reliability, and two, it was on sale for $54.99. 55 bucks for 8gb! Great deal. Has yet to show me any issues and looks great.
SSD - Although people really seem to like the Samsung EVO series of SSDs, my family has had good experiences with Crucial Storage and the fact that this was on sale at SuperBiz for less than $100 sealed the deal for 256gb of Solid State Data. Windows boot up is about 6-7 seconds. Couldn't be happier. I store my general files, OS, and system files on this drive.
HDD - Like the RAM, I got this because it was very popular and from what I've seen on Tom's and other research I did, the Caviar Blue series is a nice balance between speed and heat. At 7200 RPM it certainly does the job. I keep Steam and all of my games on here, as well as any recording I do with Nvidia Shadowplay. Speaking of Nvidia...
GPU - When I was considering building in August, I had my heart set on the AMD R9 290. When Nvidia released their GTX 970 and 980 around a month later, I was blown away - this card performed better, cooler, and quieter than the 290, and to top it all off, it was (on release) cheaper, too. At that point there was no doubt in my mind this was the card I wanted. It runs all of my games on ultra with no problems, and even on some of the most graphically intense, poorly optimized (I'm looking at you, Ubisoft) games I get 60-70 FPS. And of course, on easier games like Killing Floor, Arma, and TF2, I get anywhere from 100 to 130 FPS on max settings. I got this card from Newegg with a promo deal where you could "pick your path" and get a free game: Far Cry 4, Assassin's Creed Unity, or The Crew. I went with FC4. Game is great, and the card destroys it. Twin Frozr V is amazing. Idles at around 34 and peaks at about 60, even on the most intense games I throw at it. Would recommend this card to anyone.
Case - Most of my money went to the components, so I only had so much left for the case. I wanted something that was black, had red LED case fans, had a side window, and also had great functionality to compliment the form. For 70 bucks the Enermax Ostrog Giant does an amazing job at meeting all those requirements. The case is roomy and was a pleasure to build in, though perhaps the motherboard standoffs screw out too easily... that happened when I accidentally used too big of a screw to mount my motherboard and had to unscrew it. That was a real pain in the ***. Also, I feel like the open grated top is just an accident waiting to happen, so I keep all food and drink away from that. But aside from that, the modular drive cages, the modular optical drive bay, the movable SSD cage, the front and bottom dust filters, the smoked window side panel, and the red colored rim in the front make me believe I got the best value for my 70 bucks for what I was looking for.
PSU - Despite the listing being 80 bucks, I also got a free 20 dollar gift card from EVGA as a promo for this purchase. Cheap, Gold Certified, modular, super quiet, and more than sufficient for my system at 650W, this power supply is a monster for how much you're paying and I would easily recommend it even next to the prestigious Seasonic and XFX PSUs.
Monitor - Knowing my GPU could definitely push upward of 100 FPS on all but very graphically intense games at max settings, this monitor seemed like a good choice for its 144Hz refresh rate. Additionally the 1 MS response time, though not necessary, is a nice commodity to have. The monitor itself looks great; though many people complain about TN monitors in comparison to IPS monitors, it is (at least for me) very difficult to tell any difference unless you are not looking at the monitor from a somewhat direct angle. The stand is great and sturdy and lets me adjust for however I want to sit and look at the monitor. The speakers are meh, but I don't really care much as I'm using my old headset to play anyway.
Keyboard - My school recently got a bunch of K70s for their ETV department as a donation from an Alumni, and when I visited and felt them myself it was love at first sight. Even after feeling different keyboards at Microcenter, I felt that this one looked and felt the best. Though my school had brown switch variants, I went with reds for gaming. Haven't had any problems. Wouldn't play my games any other way.
Mouse - So, here's a story. I initially had picked out the Cosair M65 RGB mouse. When I felt it in Best Buy on display, it felt comfortable, looked great, and seemed like a great mouse. When I bought one, not only did it have random fits of stopping tracking, but the software would fail to detect the mouse if I rebooted my PC and the only way to get it to detect the mouse again was to reinstall the software (pain in the ***). The software is over-complicated just to light a mouse. Furthermore, when the mouse DID work it felt clunky and heavy, not natural for gaming, though that is my subjective opinion. So I went instead with the Deathadder Chroma from Razer and wow, does this mouse kick ***. It's super comfortable and the software is simple and easy to customize the mouse with. I've had absolutely zero problems with the mouse and it feels so natural for playing games.
Mouse Pad - I got this one as a gift from my older brother. Looks great and does its job. Was able to actually calibrate my Deathadder to it specifically, which was a nice extra.
Well, that's all. I'm overall perfectly pleased with this setup. Let me know what you all think!