History: Right after getting home from my Christmas vacation, I received a "great" present - the hard drive on my old rig decided it was tired of working, and after getting corrupted I could no longer boot up, and was falling into an endless cycle of hard disk repair prompts. I ordered replacement drives using holiday gift cards (the SSD & one of the WDs) but decided rather than go through the effort of rebuilding & repairing an old machine, I would start with a new system built from scratch. That system was built in 2009. When it was finished I felt like it was pretty powerful, and did well up until the already mentioned holiday break. I did find out the hard way I could no longer run modern games - I had bought Fallout 4 at a great sale price, but promptly had to return it to Steam as my system couldn't run DirectX11. That limitation was the other justification for a completely new build.
Previously when I've built systems I've done as much cannibalization as possible. Optical disks, Hard disks, and whatever else I could salvage moved into the new machine. For this build I decided everything from the case to the internals would be brand new. External peripherals carried forward. The mouse, keyboard, and headphones were all purchased in 2015, however the monitor is almost seven years old now and will be upgraded this summer. I'd had a two display setup on the old rig, and late last summer one of them blew a capacitor and was retired (never a good thing to see a trail of white smoke streaming out of you monitor.) I'm debating between going back to a two monitor setup, or using a single larger/wider display.
This is primarily going to be a gaming rig, as the title suggests. I will also be doing some graphics & video editing, as well as some coding exercises.
Aside from my most recent laptop (which was a gift), this is my first Intel box since the 90s. I was lucky and got the chip as a birthday present. This site makes a great "wish list" for sharing with family. For the main board I was originally leaning towards the ASUS Z170 Deluxe, but after further research I liked the ROG Hero Alpha better. One of the key features (that both supported) was the built in wireless support; I can't run cables between my internet hookup to the office the way I'd like to.
I love the look of the Dominator Platinum RAM. I intend to add the custom light bars sometime this summer.
I wanted to do something liquid cooled, but didn't have the confidence to build a custom solution. I chose the AIO cooler based on reviews, it was a little difficult to get the radiator hooked up, and I'm not thrilled with how one of the cables runs over top of the RAM, but so far temps have been good running the processor at 4.5GHz. I decided to go with the Hybrid video card as well to keep the liquid cooled theme, however the tubes on it didn't route as organically as the CPU cooler (I had to use some velcro to essentially tie the tubs together & keep them from pressing against the window), and the radiator took my only rear exhaust mount on the case. If I wanted to add a second GPU in the future it would have to be a traditional card as I don't have room for more tubs or an additional radiator. For those reasons I'll likely stick to just one.
The case was pure vanity. I've always preferred larger towers, and having the window was a must. The SSD port on the front was a bonus, as well as all the hookups. I went back and forth between the Storm Stryker & Trooper, but gave up the front eSATA port for the white case. My last couple cases were black so decided I'd like the cosmetic change better. And despite the name I intend to stencil a Storm Troop helmet on the non-windowed sign, and a small Imperial logo on the windowed side. But only after a few more practice rounds.
Trickiest thing on the install was mounting the large radiator & routing the tubes & cables in a way I liked. I'm still not entirely satisfied on the power cable side so might rework it in the near future. The Windows install went even easier than expected using a USB drive. I wasn't overly enthusiastic about the ASUS download site for the MB drivers and applications, while it is a complete list of downloads I would have like an overview of what pieces I should install in what order. I'm still fiddling with that. Driver install for everything else went pretty seamlessly.
Performance after install has been great. Installed Witcher III and have been running it at max without issues. I absolutely LOVE how fast the boot process is off of the SSD.
Overall was a fun build to put together, and I'm looking forward to some final tweaks. I will try to update with pictures this evening.