After spending many years daydreaming about building a custom machine, I finally decided to take out the money I needed and DO it. I bought a relatively decent (but certainly not gaming-quality) laptop back in 2011 that really just wasn't cutting it anymore, so I set out to build something that could handle both my workload (large datasets) and my hobbies (DSLR photography, gaming) and run a dual-boot (Windows and Linux Mint) setup.
I originally set out to build something far more modest than this, but as I did more reading, it became clear to me that it was in my best interest to try and 'future-proof' things as much as possible and buy core parts that would play well with future upgrades. That's ultimately the reason why I went with Skylake over Haswell. An ATX motherboard would have been easier to work with inside my case, but thankfully, I have very small hands! Micro Center accidentally refunded me the full price of the case when I went in for a price match, so that's why it's listed as free. Everything else listed as free is stuff I had prior to building this machine. The case fan price was also for a two-pack off of Amazon, not the single fan. I ended up moving the stock case fan to the back as exhaust and putting the two 140mm fans in front. The entire system is crazy quiet! The GPU fans are the most noticeable noise-wise, but they only kick on occasionally. There is a super-bright power LED on the GPU that I need to cover up at some point, though, because it is VERY white and just doesn't mix well with my red/black theme.
It's pretty dark on the inside, so at some point I'd like to add more lighting. May also switch out the fan on the heatsink too for something black or red. I haven't had any need for overclocking yet (other than the GPU, which came factory overclocked), but I like having the option. I was originally going to wait and pick up a G-Sync monitor on Black Friday, but Micro Center had a crazy markdown on the Acer that I just couldn't ignore.
Overall, the computer meets my needs and I really enjoyed putting it together! I don't have many of the quantifiable details in hand but I'll try to remember to add them at some point. (Also, sorry for the lack of cable management photos -- once I managed to wrestle that side panel back on, I was hesitant to take it off again! More room to bind cords together and hide them would have been ideal, but I was able to make it work.)
Finally -- my cats slept through the entire process and didn't bother me once, which was unprecedented. Included photo was not taken the night I put everything together, but that's how they looked.
UPDATE: Added some temperature info and my benchmarks for Rise of the Tomb Raider.
Great so far! I may add to this if/when I overclock.
Light, pretty, easy to install. I used the thermal paste that came with it... that may change if/when I start overclocking.
Tons of customization options in the BIOS. The only installation problems I ran into were most likely case-related and not related to the motherboard (had a hard time getting it in (that's what she said), haven't figured out the right configuation for the reset button LED). Compatibility-wise, I quickly discovered that the stock kernel for Linux Mint 17.3 has no support for the motherboard audio codec (Realtek ALC1150), but an upgrade to a more recent kernel fixed that problem.
Looks AMAZING in my case. Haven't overclocked yet.
Got a great deal on this SSD from Amazon. Thanks, Amazon! I use it in conjunction with an old 500 GB Hitachi storage HDD that I removed from my laptop (which now has its own SSD).
Snagged a great deal on this card (the price listed on here doesn't include the rebate, which was either $10 or $20... can't remember). It's handled everything I've thrown at it so far very well and it takes a lot for the fans to kick on. I noticed today that it's been running kind of hot with minimal load (around 67C while just using a few tabs on Google Chrome), but again that's without the fans on. Once I turn those on at 40% it quickly drops to the 30s. It was idling in the upper 40s/lower 50s when I first installed it, so I'm not sure what's going on. Maybe the new monitor?
EDIT: Definitely the dual-monitor setup. Using the Multi Display Power Saver configuration via Nvidia Inspector now, and I've dropped to a cool 47 C with the GPU fans off.
Not a bad case for the price (which was free for me, because Micro Center accidentally gave me a full refund). Motherboard was tough to get in, and cord management was a challenge (would've been much problematic for someone with bigger hands). I also had a heck of a time getting the side panel back on. I do like the minimalist design and the window, though. Overall, I can't say that I recommend it for a first-time builder, but if you pick your parts carefully or if you aren't someone who cares about cable management (get outta here!!), it will probably work fine. Finally, be warned that it only comes with one 120mm case fan.
Semi-modular is a godsend. I can't imagine how a person would even deal with a power supply that wasn't modular. Love the black cords.
I bought this from seller L&WTECH on Amazon. I love Win10 but man, it's buggy as hell. Also, I used GPT at first, but wasn't given an option when I had to reinstall it due to a variety of issues (I think because I went through UEFI on accident). This resulted in MBR being used for the second install, which later caused some issues with my Linux Mint install (I had to go in and get rid of the leftover GPT partition that I didn't know was there). I've also lately had issues with updates freezing out and giving me the never-ending spinning circle of death. Get your **** together, Microsoft!
I love these fans (I bought a two-pack for $29.99 total, but there's no part list on here for the two-pack). The LEDs are bright and the fans look pretty sweet on the front of my case.
This monitor is great! I managed to match the colors pretty closely with my Dell, and G-Sync means that new games play smoothly even at lower FPS. I find 3D to be a bit gimmicky so I'm not sure I'll ever utilize that technology, and with the 970 GPU I'm content with 1080p for now. It's pretty heavy, though, as monitors go, with a VERY sturdy base.