This is the first computer that I've ever built from the ground up. I've frankensteined computers before by taking leftover parts and putting them together to make a basic system, or by taking a prebuilt system and adding/swapping parts. This time though... It's my baby. Some leftover parts from my old rig were used in this build but I purchased them for my old rig with the intention of using them in my new build when it came time.
The old parts reused in this build were: •Zotac AMP! GeForce GTX 570 GPU •Cooler Master 700w ATX PSU (I had to buy a new PSU when I bought the GPU because my old PSU didn't have enough amps on the 12v rail to support the GPU at max load.) •LG Blu-ray Writer •Toshiba 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM HDD
I use this computer mainly as a gaming rig and as a media center. I have it hooked up to my 39" TV (1080p) in my apartment living room. I use a wireless mouse and keyboard so I can sit back and relax in my recliner. I'm a casual gamer so I didn't see the need to build something with multiple monitors and GPUs. I spent over a month (the time between my old rig dying and accumulating enough money to build my new rig) researching parts and reading reviews to come to a part list and build that I would feel satisfied and comfortable with.
I set a budget of around $600-$700 in new parts but inevitably went a bit over because I'm a fool for the deals at Micro Center. (It doesn't help that I live right down the street from it.)
CPU: I went with AMD because I had a restricted budget and I saw more price/performance value in AMD than in Intel. Not to mention, most Intel mobos do not have a color scheme that I found visually appealing. My old rig was AMD based and performed quite valiantly for over 6 years. The FX-8350 seemed like a good choice considering it performed well in reviews and tests, it had a high stock clock speed and MANY cores for multitasking and future gaming, and for the fact that it was relatively cheap for the above reasons.
MOBO: I went with Asus because they seem to make good parts for a decent price and offer an attractive warranty to back it up (3 years). It also had good reviews on the BIOS, it had enough SATA III ports for my optical drive + 6 HDD/SSD to ensure that I had the option to install plenty of disk space to fuel my media center needs, and it matched my color scheme.
PSU: I bought the PSU a couple of years ago when I didn't really know what I was looking for. All I knew was that I needed more power. Unfortunately I bought something that isn't very efficient but I'm gonna roll with it until it dies because I simply can't afford to buy a good replacement at the moment. When it comes time to replace it, I intend to buy a full modular 80+ Gold Standard PSU.
GPU: The GPU was a deal that just landed itself in my lap. A friend bought a new GPU and wanted to sell their old one to help with the cost of their new one. They offered it to me for a decent price and my old 8800 GT at the time was severely outdated. The colors on the card are atrocious but it was still too good of a deal to pass on. Plus, it helped out a friend in need. I mounted it closer to the bottom to help with airflow through the case.
CPU Cooler: I knew that I wanted to go with a liquid cooled CPU for a number of reasons. 1) Stock CPU coolers don't cut it for me. 2)I don't intend to overclock immediately but I want the option available when it becomes necessary and having such a cooler can potentially help the longevity of my CPU even before I decide to overclock. 3) I find aftermarket air based CPU coolers to be an eyesore in what I intended to be an extremely pretty build. 4) Geek chic. I had a tough time choosing between the NZXT Kraken x60 and the Corsair H100i. I liked the NZXT because of it's larger radiator and fan size, and for the fact that my case and LED controller are of the same brand (loyalty and whatnot). However, I found that the mounts in my case would have obscured the extra radiator and fan space that I felt was a plus on the x60 and the fact that the Corsair came with a 5 year warranty compared to NZXT's 2 year warranty. With the cooler fans set to quiet mode and the case fans set to low, the CPU idles at about 15ºC with almost no sound output. Under load from Prime 95 with the same settings my CPU reaches about 46ºC. If I turn the cooler and case fans up to max it sounds like an aircraft carrier but the CPU temp under load drops to about 37ºC.
RAM: I went with G.Skill as a brand because they seem to have good customer support and they offered RAM sticks that matched my color scheme and had a low latency for the stock speed of 1866mhz. I thought about getting Crucial Ballistix Elite because it's essentially what I had in my old rig but the price was a bit high for my budget including everything else that I had already decided on. Upon startup, the MOBO auto detected the RAM and set it to 1600mhz. Apparently this is a common problem but all I had to do was go into the BIOS and manually set the speed to 1866mhz. It was stupid easy. Now it runs at the proper speed with no problems. It's also got a waaaay shinier finish than the product pictures display. We're talking near mirror finish.
HDDs: I bought the Toshiba HDDs because they had a large amount of space, 3 year warranties, were fairly cheap at the time of purchase, and have served me well in the past.
Case: It's super pretty, has a rear I/O LED to light up the back panel with the touch of a switch, case fan control hub with a variable speed switch on top of the case, decent cable management area, HDD/SSD cages that can be switched around or removed to optimize airflow, and a 2 port USB 3.0 hub at the top/front for easy access.
Fans: The case came with an NZXT 200mm fan on the front of the case for an intake and a 140mm NZXT fan on the back for an exhaust. I bought two Purex 120mm fans with the intention of using them in a push/pull configuration for the CPU cooler but found that there wasn't enough clearance between the mobo and radiator to make it happen. So I used one as a bottom intake next to the PSU and the other on the internal bracket designed to direct airflow. Unfortunately the angle of the bracket couldn't be changed much. This was due to the large size of the GPU and also because the power plugs into the back of the card rather than the side like many newer GPUs.
Optical Drive: Who wouldn't want a Blu-ray burner for cheaper than most Blu-ray players? HD movies + awesome amounts of media center back-up on a few discs... yes please.
NZXT Hue LED Controller: Simply because it's pretty and cheap. A bit of flare for under $30 seemed like a worthwhile investment to me.